President Rodrigo Duterte did not mention anything about taking a break from work after his participation in the 35th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit and Related Summits in Bangkok, Thailand from November 2 to 4, Malacañang said Thursday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this remark after Senator Christopher “Bong” Go bared on Oct. 24 that the President would go on a break for one week after his participation in the summit.
“No mention was made,” Panelo said when asked by reporters if the Chief Executive brought up his plan on taking time off for himself during Wednesday night’s Cabinet meeting.
Earlier, Panelo said he assumed that the 74-year-old President just opted to “lessen his volume of work.”
Prior to his attendance at the Asean Summit, Duterte suffered “unbearable” back pain due to a minor motorcycle accident at the compound of the Presidential Security Group in Manila last October 16.
Some Asean leaders noticed that he seemed to be “overworked”, Panelo said.
Duterte returned to Manila on November 4, the same day when the 35th Asean Summit and Related Summits concluded.
The President was unable to attend the 7th Asean-US Summit, the third Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Summit, and the closing ceremony of this year’s Asean Summit and Thailand’s handover of the chairmanship to Vietnam.
Panelo said Duterte opted to skip the closing ceremony during the third and last day of the regional bloc’s summit so as not to miss his 7 p.m. flight to Manila.
Panelo also defended Duterte’s failure to arrive on time for the family photo of the Asean Plus Three Summit where Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for the Office of Asean Affairs Junever Mahilum-West filled in for the President and explained that he was in the restroom to relieve himself.
The Palace official also defended anew Duterte’s decision not to visit earthquake-affected areas in Mindanao stressing that government measures were already in place to respond to residents’ needs.
“In place naman lahat ng ating mga tulong sa biktima ng earthquake. Wala naman tayong problema dun (Our assistance for the earthquake victims are in place. We don’t have any problem with that),” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
Panelo emphasized that Duterte could not forego Asean since it concerns common interests in the region.
“They have to get together and unite against common concerns like terrorism, the drug menace,” Panelo said.
Earlier, Panelo said Duterte had “fruitful” participation in the recently-concluded Asean Summit where he participated in a series of interactive discussions with fellow Asean leaders and dialogue partners on regional strategic issues and promoting partnerships for sustainability. (PNA)