Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad (L), Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte leave the stage after posing for a group photo at the opening ceremony during the 33rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Singapore on November 13, 2018.
AFP/Jewel Samad
Duterte no-show at Australian-ASEAN summit anew
( - November 14, 2018 - 11:21am

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 11:41 a.m.) — President Rodrigo Duterte was the lone ASEAN head of state who was absent during a special summit with Australia on Wednesday morning.

Southeast Asian leaders met with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison for a breakfast summit, the first event on the second day of the 33rd ASEAN summit in Singapore.

The president was also not seen at the ASEAN-Korea Summit, which was held after the ASEAN-China Summit with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. Duterte, however, attended the special meeting with China.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. represented the president in the official ASEAN summit with Australia and South Korea.

Malacañang has yet to issue a statement on why Duterte did not attend the meeting with Morrison and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

This would be the second time this year that the president would be missing a summit between the ASEAN and Australia.

In March, Duterte opted not to attend the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit in Sydney due to developments in the Philippines. The president instead attended the commencement exercises of the Philippine Military Academy Alab Tala Class, which coincided with the special summit.

Duterte 'not enthusiastic' on international summits

It should be recalled that former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull described Duterte as "not an enthusiastic attender of international conferences."

Turnbull made this statement upon confirming that the Philippine leader would not be attending the special summit in Sydney last March.

“We would very much welcome his presence but he'd always indicated he was not going to attend,” Turnbull said in March, based on a report by

Duterte's absence in the ASEAN-Australia summit earlier this year was at a time that the international community has been calling for an external probe into his crackdown against illegal drugs.

Australia was among the countries that condemned Duterte's drug war during the United Nations Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva last year. — Patricia Lourdes Viray

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