President Rodrigo Duterte will not attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia this weekend where the 10 members are scheduled to tackle the crisis in Myanmar, according to Malacanang.
“The President will not personally attend but I’m sure that our Department of Foreign Affairs will be there,” Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.
The Palace spokesman did not say why the President would not attend, and neither was he asked for the reason by reporters.
Duterte has designated Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. as his Special Envoy to the summit that will be held on April 24.
Roque said the summit this weekend will decide on a common position from ASEAN about the crisis in Myanmar, which started in early February after the military overthrew the country’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.
Roque said that Duterte was skipping the summit because of safety reasons since it would be done face-to-face.
He also said that Duterte was not the only head of state that would not attend the ASEAN Summit, although most member-states would send representatives, mostly their foreign ministers.
But he did not mention who were the other heads of state who would not be attending the meeting.
The Philippines did not join the earlier United Nations Human Rights Council resolution that called for the release of the country’s civilian leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The country maintained that the crisis in Myanmar should be resolved domestically.
In a statement, meanwhile, the DFA said “The Philippines strongly supported the convening of the Meeting even without the full attendance of all ASEAN Leaders. This special Leaders’ meeting will address urgent matters in the region, including recovery efforts, the situation in Myanmar, ASEAN community-building efforts, external relations, and regional and international issues.”
The DFA said Locsin would convey Manila’s commitment to ASEAN’s efforts in addressing threats and challenges to peace and stability in the region.
Locsin will also express the Philippines’ support to the initiative of Brunei Darussalam and the Secretary-General of ASEAN to use their offices to visit Myanmar and spearhead the bloc’s response to the crisis in Myanmar.
Duterte “decided to remain in the country to attend to pressing domestic concerns” in light of the surge of coronavirus disease 2019 cases, the DFA said.