Duterte says he won't go to US
President Rodrigo Duterte has declined an invitation by US President Donald Trump for Southeast Asian leaders to attend a summit in Las Vegas in March.
In an interview by Russia's state-owned media RT on January 21, Duterte said he just received an invitation from the US.
"I just received an invitation to go to the United States together with the ASEAN leaders. I haven't been to the States," he said.
Asked if he would go, Duterte said, "No. No."
But in a press briefing on Thursday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte has to "ponder" over Trump's invitation.
"He (Duterte) said, one, he has to ponder over it. Why? Because he doesn’t want to go there and if he is already there, some US senators would be unhappy seeing him there, because he is supposed to be number one on the list," said Panelo, also chief presidential legal counsel.
"Number two, he said, 'I do not know if US will issue me a visa. And if I’m issued a visa, I do not know if when I arrived in the States I would be allowed entry'," he said.
With such response by Duterre, he said, "so in other words, the ball has been thrown to them. Then they have to do something about it. Since the President has already made his position on the matter."
Asked if Duterte wants a categorical statement from the US regarding his concern over the possible trip to the US, Panelo said, "No, he didn't say that."
He said it would be up to the US to "receive whatever signals it wants to receive from the statements of the President."
In a text message to reporters later in the day, Panelo said he would ask Duterte of his statement with the Russian media outfit.
Early in his administration, Duterte said he would not visit the US after being irked by the criticisms of Trump's predecessor, former President Barack Obama, on the Philippine bloody war against illegal drugs.
Trump recently signed the 2020 US Budget Law, which includes a provision banning Philippine government officials responsible in the detention of opposition Senator Leila de Lima. Celerina Monte/DMS