President Rodrigo Duterte has declined an invitation to attend the United States-ASEAN summit in Washington, DC to be held from May 11 to 13.
“I have an invitation in the US to join ASEAN countries to have a dialogue with President Joe Biden. The problem is the dates of the conference are May 11 to 13. By the time the elections are done and we’d already know who the new president is. The problem is if I attend the summit, I might take a stand that could not be acceptable to the next administration,” the President said during his Talk to the People briefing that aired late Tuesday evening.
Duterte said he recently sent Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to the US to talk with their counterparts about several issues, one of which was the US special summit in which Duterte had been invited to.
“I am scared to go there. First, I might get lost. Second, I might enter places where I might butchered. The third is a matter of principle. I have been saying for a long time that I do not want to go there. I want to keep my reason to myself,” he said.
In turning down the invitation, Duterte said he would not want to unduly contradict his successor’s views and opinions on certain issues, among them the interlocking and overlapping claims on the South China Sea, which is being claimed wholly by China.
“If it is a working conference, there might be some agreements or commitments that will be made there. The problem is if I went there, I might take a stand that might not be acceptable to the next administration,” he said.
The public will elect the next president on May 9. Duterte remained firm that he would stay neutral and would only endorse a candidate if there was a compelling reason.
“As a matter of principle–I’ve been saying that I don’t want to go there. If I said I wouldn’t go there, I won’t go there. I’ll keep the reason to myself,” Duterte added.