President Rodrigo Duterte has changed his mind, opting to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Peru next week. On Friday, he was considering opting out of the trip that would pave the way for another meeting with leaders of three superpowers after the Asean meeting in China.
“For now, it [his Peru trip] is confirmed,” Presidential Communications Office Secretary Martin Andanar told the state-run radio station dzRB.
Duterte’s trip will include meetings with leaders of countries who will be attending the summit.
“It’s all about meeting the different leaders of the world. And, also being present in the activities that were arranged by the Apec and Peru,” Andanar said.
But, Andanar clarified that the President’s travel plans may still change if more important matters would come up before the Apec Summit, that would require Duterte to attend to.
“It can change tomorrow. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow. Maybe there could be other activities that could just spring up and activities that are more important than activities in Peru,” he said.
Last Friday, Duterte said he was thinking about skipping the Apec summit because he hates long-haul flights.
Duterte will also have a two-hour stopover in New Zealand to take a rest, according to Andanar.
As of Sunday, Duterte has not disclosed any plans in New Zealand.
“We don’t know if there will be an activity with the Filipino community or with other officials of government of New Zealand and it remains to be seen,” Andanar said.
The Apec summit will be held in Lima, Peru from November 19 to 20.
Duterte said last Friday he was considering skipping the Apec Summit in Peru next week because he hates long-haul flights.
It would be Duterte’s first time to attend the annual meeting of Pacific Rim leaders, which also include US President Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“If my presence is dispensable, I’d rather not kasi malayo [It’s far]... I hate long-hauls,” Duterte said.
Duterte said Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr., was convincing him to push through with the trip to Lima.
The estimated travel time from Manila to Lima is about 19 and a half hours for direct flights. It could take longer should the president’s plane make stopovers.
Duterte said he could fly to Peru via New Zealand, while another route would require a stop in either New York or Miami in the US.
“It’s a long way across the globe. It’s a long-haul, it will kill you by the time you reach [Peru],” he said.
Duterte in Apec would bring him in close quarters with Obama, whom he had repeatedly criticized over the US government’s censure of his bloody war on drugs.
The President has been as vocal about his desire to strengthen ties with China and Russia as he moves to lessen the Philippines’ dependence on its long-time ally, the US.
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