PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte is skipping events at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Meeting, cutting short his stay there in Papua New Guinea.
But Malacanang said in a later advisory that the President is attending the APEC-related events in Papua New Guinea on Saturday.
“The Palace wishes to announce that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte will participate in today’s APEC-related events, which include, among others, a dialogue before prominent business leaders during the summit of chief executive officers of the APEC Business Advisory Council or ABAC and a meeting with leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum, capped by a gala dinner in the evening,” Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said in a statement issued Saturday.
However, Duterte will leave for the Philippines right after the APEC-related events on Saturday due to “urgent domestic developments.”
“The President will personally convey this imperative decision to his good friend Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’ Neill who we hope will understand the same,” Panelo said.
He gave the assurance though that the Philippines supports Papua New Guinea’s chairmanship of the APEC.
“The Philippines remains supportive of Papua New Guinea’s Chairmanship and will continue to be positively engaged with APEC, which our country considers as the most important economic cooperation platform in the world, especially in reinforcing the formulation of the new and inclusive APEC Vision beyond the year 2020,” Panelo said.
Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez will represent Duterte in the remaining APEC-related events.
Lopez is expected to push for the Philippines’ priorities in APEC, “particularly in our pursuit of a comfortable and secure life for our people, with the same full resolve,” Panelo said.
“He is the best person to manifest the President’s support for international mechanisms that will enable our micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to take advantage of digital and online platforms to benefit their businesses and bring their products and services overseas,” the presidential spokesperson added.
Lopez will also work with other leaders in having small business link internationally, in line with the Philippine-led initiative, the Boracay Action Agenda, Panelo said.
Earlier, Malacanang said that Duterte will leave Papua New Guinea a day earlier than scheduled at 11:15 p.m. on Saturday.
He was expected to arrive in Davao City today at 3:15 a.m., Malacañang said.
Duterte will thus miss Sunday’s events, including the leaders’ family photo-op at 9 a.m., the International Monetary Fund informal dialogue with leaders at 9:15 a.m., leaders’ retreat at 10 a.m. and leaders’ working lunch at 1:45 p.m.
In the original schedule, the President was supposed to leave Port Moresby at 4:15 p.m. on Sunday and arrive four hours later at Davao International Airport, where he was scheduled to give an arrival statement.
But Malacañang said on Friday evening that Duterte would no longer address media on his arrival.
“Please be informed that PRRD will leave PNG on Nov. 17 at 11:15 p.m., and arrive in Davao City on Nov. 18 at 3:15 a.m.,” the advisory read.
“No more arrival statement, thank you,” it said.