Request to Duterte to cut short speech in Japan forum not an issue, Palace says
President Rodrigo Duterte was not offended when he was asked to conclude his speech during the recent Nikkei conference in Japan.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said they were not even sure it was the Nikkei organizers who asked Duterte to already conclude his speech during the Nikkei's 25th International Conference on the Future of Asia in Tokyo on May 31.
"Was it Nikkei organizers that did it or our own protocol? Because if you will notice, our protocol approached him (Duterte) and reminded him of his meeting with the Prime Minister (Shinzo Abe)," he said.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., in his Twitter, reportedly said that it was "rude" for Nikkei organizers to ask heads of states, like Duterte, to cut short the speech.
"If it's Nikkei that asked (the President to stop), Secretary Locsin is correct...that's rudeness, because you don't stop a president from delivering a speech, a head of state."
However, Panelo, who accompanied Duterte to Tokyo, said, "But as far as the protocol is concerned, we have to remind the President that he still had the other schedule."
When Duterte was delivering his speech at the Nikkei forum, a Japanese man approached the President on the stage and gave him a small note, which Duterte read.
"Please conclude speech," Duterte read, drawing laughter and applause from the audience.
He then concluded his speech by saying, "Ladies and gentlemen, I love --- we love Japan. You know I am sorry it’s the --- it’s the Prime Minister who is waiting for me. So you are not even the second or the third. I’ll leave you with just a smile."
Panelo said Duterte just made fun and light the latter part of his speech after receiving the note purportedly containing the message asking him to conclude his speech.
Panelo said it was not even sure the content of the note was the request for him to conclude his speech.
"The President said that he was asked to stop, isn't it? But it could also be possible that the President was just joking. I don't think that's an issue. It would be an issue if (he was really told) 'That's enough. Mr. President, stop talking', that's another issue," he explained.
He added that Duterte is a "very reasonable man." Celerina Monte/DMS