Palace, DFA deny Duterte "unceremoniously ignored" in Japan
Malacanang and the Department of Foreign Affairs ( DFA) denied on Thursday that President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to cut short his trip to Japan was because he was "unceremoniously ignored" there.
"Absolutely false," said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, who accompanied Duterte in Japan to attend the enthronement ceremony of Japanese Emperor Naruhito on October 22.
Like Panelo, the DFA denied that Duterte was ignored in Japan.
"I verified with (the Philippine Embassy in) Tokyo, the allegations are false," Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Eduardo Matin Menez told reporters.
The President, however, did not attend separate banquets for the heads of state and other guests on the night of October 22 at the Imperial Palace and on the following day hosted by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
He was instead represented by his daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio in the two events.
Duterte flew back to Manila on the night of October 22, citing his "unbearable pain" on his pelvic area due to his fall from a motorcycle ride last week.
A Facebook post by certain Ding C. Velasco has gone viral, alleging that Duterte did not really suffer unbearable pelvic pains.
Velasco said it was "just a ruse they concocted 'to gain sympathy for an ailing President doing his duty even in grave physical pain' in order not to be publicly assailed for having been unceremoniously ignored in Japan (though not a fault of Japan)."
Acknowledging that he could just be speculating, Velasco said that when Japan sent the formal invitations to all heads of state for the enthronement rites months ago, Duterte sent a word that he could not attend.
Thus, this would mean the Philippine delegation would be reduced to the Philippine Ambassador and was therefore relegated down the line.
"The seating protocol allotted to the Philippines previously for a Head of State was downgraded to that of an Ambassador and when upon arriving in Japan - Duterte was notified of this (to seat at the back with Ambassadors) - they tried to ask the Enthronement Committee to re-arrange the seating protocol - and their request was denied ... because it would create a 'domino effect' in the seating protocol of hundreds of Heads of State who already had their seating numbers based on established diplomatic protocol," Velasco said.
He also said when Duterte arrived in Tokyo early morning of October 22 and when "nobody of high rank" from the Japanese Foreign Ministry came to meet him, that "could have been enough notice for Duterte and his entourage to realize that Duterte's last minute decision to attend had dire consequences: nobody crashes the ceremony of a Japanese Emperor being enthroned to change seating protocol because such rituals and arrangements are planned much in advance by the meticulous Japanese."
In a press briefing in Malacanang last September, Panelo has said Duterte might just send a representative in the enthronement ceremony.
But on October 6 press conference at the Davao airport following his arrival from Russia, when Duterte was asked if he would attend the ascension to the throne of the Japanese emperor, he has said that personally, he wanted to go because Japan has been a strong partner of the Philippines. Celerina Monte/DMS