Philippines formally accepts chairmanship of ASEAN for 2017
President Rodrigo Duterte formally accepted on Thursday the Philippine chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) when the regional bloc marks its 50th founding anniversary next year.
Laos Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith turned over the chairmanship to Duterte during the end of the three-day ASEAN Summit and Related Summits in Vientiane.
Duterte skipped three leaders' meetings, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-United States (ASEAN-US).
Officials said Duterte, who is attended an international gathering for the first time since he assumed office on June 30, was not feeling well.
Duterte also did not join the ASEAN-India meeting on Thursday.
"He (Duterte) was not feeling well in the morning so he missed the two sessions," said Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, who was part of Duterte's official delegation.
Duterte was represented by Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. in the two meetings.
After the events in Laos, Duterte flew Thursday night to Indonesia for a working visit.
In his bilateral meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, they are expected to discuss the security situation in the two countries' borders following a series of abductions perpetrated by Filipino terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group to Indonesian seamen.
Duterte said he would also raise the case of Mary Jane Veloso, whose execution has been suspended by Indonesia as suspects who lured her to bring illegal drugs are facing trial in the Philippines.
Duterte has said if Indonesia would not listen to his appeal to spare the life of Veloso, he would respect it.
Duterte is expected to arrive in Davao later Friday.
Communications Operations Secretary Martin Andanar told reporters in Laos Duterte failed to attend the ASEAN-UN meeting because he paid a courtesy call to the Laos president. Celerina Monte