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Why Duterte skipped 6 of 11 ASEAN events: Palace says he rested, took power naps


President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday skipped six out of 11 events at the ASEAN Summit, including the gala dinner Singapore hosted for him and his fellow heads of government.

Malacañang said Duterte had little sleep the night before and had to take power naps during the ASEAN member-state's breakfast meeting with Australia, their meeting with South Korea, the working lunch hosted by Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsieh Loong, the 2nd Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Summit, and the cocktail reception for world leaders and their spouses.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said Duterte had to rest and missed the gala dinner.

Duterte was represented in the events by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.

Duterte showed up in the ASEAN leaders' meetings with China, Japan and Russia.

He also had a bilateral meeting with Lee, this year’s ASEAN chairman, and witnessed the signing of the memorandum of understanding between the Eurasian Economic Commission and ASEAN on Economic Cooperation.

In a statement, Panelo said Duterte decided not to attend the gala dinner so he could rest.

“Last night, the President worked late and had only less than three hours of sleep. It is unfortunate that the first event scheduled today was at 8:30 a.m.,” Panelo said, referring to the ASEAN-Australia Informal Breakfast Summit.

“In those instances where he did not attend, namely, the ASEAN-Australia Informal Breakfast Summit, the 20th ASEAN - Republic of Korea Summit, the Working Lunch hosted by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and the Second Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Summit, he took power naps to catch on sleep,” he added.

Panelo said they found it “amusing” that some quarters were “making a big fuss” of the President’s skipping some meetings in the regional event.

He also assured the nation that Duterte’s absence had "nothing to do with his physical health and well-being which have been the subject of speculation.”

“The President’s constantly punishing work schedule is proof that he is in top physical shape,” Panelo said of the 73-year-old leader.

The 33rd ASEAN Summit will conclude on Thursday with Duterte scheduled to take part in meetings with other dialogue partners such as the United States and hold a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

After Singapore, the President will fly to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea for the 19th Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Meeting on November 17 to 18. —NB, GMA News

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