President Duterte grimaces as he steps out of a vehicle to attend the enthronement ceremony of Japanese Emperor Naruhito at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on October 22, also in photo is the President’s daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
Was Duterte 'snubbed' in Japan? Palace denies viral Facebook post
( - October 24, 2019 - 10:43am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs on Thursday denied the claims of a viral post on President Rodrigo Duterte’s shortened trip to Japan, but a Palace briefing late September showed that Duterte was inclined to send someone else in his stead to attend the Japanese ceremonies.

Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Eduardo Matin Menez told reporters that there is no truth to the viral Facebook post of Ding Velasco claiming that Duterte cut short his trip to the Asian country because they were “unceremoniously ignored in Japan.”

“I verified with Tokyo, the allegations are false,” said Menez, explaining that he asked the Philippine Embassy on the claims made in the now viral post.

But presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, in a briefing last September 23, said that Duterte might just send someone else to attend the ceremonies.

Journalist Celerina Monte of Manila Shimbun asked Panelo in a mix of English and Filipino: “Sir, speaking of Japan, about my text the other day, did you ask the President already if he will attend the ceremonial."

Panelo replied: “He said, he has so many works to do. He might be just sending somebody there.”

The Palace spokesman said that as of that day, Duterte had not identified who will represent him in the ceremonies.

The Palace on October said that Duterte will attend the coronation of the new Japanese emperor and two banquets, but on the day of the ceremonies, it was announced that Duterte would return to the Philippines due to "unbearable pain" early Tuesday evening and would see his neurologist on Wednesday.

Duterte snubbed?

Velasco, in his post, said that while he can only speculate, Duterte might have returned earlier to Manila not because of “unbearable pain" but because he was snubbed as the president had not signified that he would be attending the ceremonies when invitations where first sent out.

Manila’s word that the president would not attend meant “that the Philippine Delegation to the Enthronement Rites would be led by our Philippine Ambassador and was therefore relegated down the line.”

He said that the seating protocol for the Philippines that was previously for a Head of State was “downgraded to that of an ambassador.”

He added that Duterte asked to rearrange the seating protocol but was denied as it could affect the arrangement for hundreds of Heads of State whose seats were established based on diplomatic protocol.

The Japan Times reported that Emperor Naruhito's ascension to the throne is a "once-in-a-generation event." It added that close to 200 representatives from the countries and organizations across the globe are attending the event that cost ¥16 billion. 

“And we Duterte found out that he would not only seat [sic] in the back but would not be announced among the protocol line of Heads of State; they decided he would be humiliated — thus the invention of ‘unberable pain’ as the reason for leaving Tokyo at the exact moment that the new Japanese Emperor was being crowned,” Velasco also claimed.

Palace: Duterte underwent MRI, ‘well enough’ to meet Chinese Vice Premier

On Thursday, the Palace said that Duterte underwent magnetic resonance imaging and medical evaluation.

“He was diagnosed to be having muscle spasms causing what he described to be an unbearable pain at the pelvic and spinal area of his body,” Panelo said in a statement.

READ: Back pain from motorcycle mishap adds to Duterte's litany of health issues

Duterte, a fan of big bikes, fell off of a motorcycle at the Presidential Security Group compound last week.

“The attending doctor said that there is a strong likelihood that these incidents may have caused or possibly aggravated the current pain he is suffering from his lower back,” he added.

The spokesman said that the doctor advised Duterte to rest for a couple of days, take medicine to relieve pain, and limit physical activities “particularly avoiding standing or walking for long duration.”

But Panelo said that Duterte is now “feeling much better” and would attend the meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Hu Chunhua to discuss certain infrastructure projects in the Philippines, which are financed by China.”

The president would also attend two local and foreign engagements in the following days, Panelo added. — Kristine Joy Patag with report from Patricia Lourdes Viray

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