Duterte to skip ASEAN-Australia summit to be present in PMA graduation
President Rodrigo Duterte will skip the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Australia Summit this month to attend the graduation of incoming military officials, Malacanang said on Monday.
"Let me begin by saying that the president regrets that he will be unable to attend the ASEAN Australia summit this month," said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in a press briefing.
Instead, Roque said Duterte will be represented by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano in the summit to be held in Sydney on March 17-18.
"Developments at home continue to require the presidents’ presence in the Philippines as in fact one affairs that he has to attend is the PMA (Philippine Military Academy) graduation," Roque said.
He said Duterte's attendance at PMA graduation tentatively scheduled on March 18 in Baguio City would be an "opportunity" for him to have a dialogue with the incoming junior military officers, particularly in dealing with the problem of "modern day terrorism."
Roque stressed that the president considers the summit "very important and has designated Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alan Peter Cayetano as his special personal representative."
With Cayetano to attend the summit, he said this will help ensure that the Philippines continues to be engaged with ASEAN and Australia "in advancing shared interest in the region and moving forward the common agenda for greater security, stability and inclusive and sustainable development in the region."
Since he assumed office in June 2016, Duterte has been visiting military and police camps all over the country.
In a previous speech, he admitted that the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police are his top priority. Celerina Monte/DMS