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Rody suffers migraine, skips US, India summits

Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - September 9, 2016 - 12:00am

VIENTIANE – A migraine prevented President Duterte yesterday from attending two events in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit, officials said.

Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza said Duterte skipped the ASEAN-United States and ASEAN-India meetings because he felt unwell.

“He was not feeling well in the morning so he missed the two sessions. But he was able to attend the East Asia Summit with 18 world leaders and the rest of the day’s remaining schedule,” Dureza said.

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar confirmed in a separate interview that the President had migraine attacks.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. represented the Philippines in the two sessions missed by Duterte.

The President had also missed the ASEAN-United Nations meeting last Wednesday due to a conflict in schedule. Andanar said the ASEAN-UN event coincided with Duterte’s courtesy call on Lao President Bounnhang Vorachith.

He clarified that Duterte did not avoid the dialogue with the UN, which has raised concerns over the spate of drug-related killings in the Philippines.

Also yesterday, ASEAN leaders and their dialogue partners vowed to increase their cooperation in trade, security and other areas of mutual concern.

The leaders made the commitment during the 11th East Asia Summit and the 14th ASEAN-India Summit held here yesterday.

During the East Asia summit, the leaders adopted declarations on promoting infrastructure development cooperation and on strengthening responses to migrants in crisis and trafficking in persons.

The ASEAN-India conference, meanwhile, focused on connectivity, trade, investment, information communication and people-to-people exchanges. 

The East Asia Summit was attended by leaders from ASEAN member-states and their dialogue partners China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Russia.

Sources said Duterte disregarded the remarks prepared by the Foreign Affairs department and delivered an impromptu speech about human rights.

A Philippine official who spoke on condition of anonymity said Duterte’s speech lasted for 10 minutes and contained “very strong words.” A transcript of Duterte’s remarks was not available as of last night. The official did not say what Duterte’s “very strong words” were about.

The remarks or “intervention” that Duterte did not read focused on the South China Sea dispute, terrorism and illegal drugs.

“On the South China Sea issue, we underscore the importance of a rules-based approach in the peaceful resolution of disputes,” the intervention read.

“We can be open to exploring other options to settle disputes, provided that these are in accord with international law and ASEAN core values. This includes full respect for legal and diplomatic processes recognized under the UN Charter, international law including UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) and the recent arbitral award on the South China Sea which is now part of international jurisprudence relative to the maritime domain.” 

Duterte was also supposed to urge claimants to “exercise self-restraint, to avoid provocative statements and actions and not to militarize.”?The remarks also described terrorism as “a serious concern for the community of peace-loving nations and peoples.

“Terrorism knows no borders and cooperation between and among countries will be vital for our collective success.”

The prepared statement also tackled the government’s relentless campaign against narcotics.

“We will work towards the objective of a drug-free region and stand ready to cooperate with interested stakeholders in this regard,” it read.

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs described Duterte’s speech during the East Asia Summit as “passionate.”

“In the passionate intervention of President Duterte, he underscored the need to take a long historical view of human rights mindful of the atrocities against the ethnic people of Mindanao,” the agency said. 

“Even as we continue to comply with our constitutional requirements in the observance of due process and respect for human rights, he is committed to combating the spread of illegal drugs to ensure the security and well-being of the next generation.”

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