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Duterte's absence in meetings may affect PHL ties with other countries —analyst

President Rodrigo Duterte's absences in some of the meetings during the 33rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Singapore will not help in the Philippines' efforts to maintain good relations with other countries, GMA resident analyst Richard Heydarian said Thursday.

"It's also a question of lost diplomatic opportunity," Heydarian told GMA News Online. "No major direct consequence but clearly it won’t help us mend and strengthen ties with many countries, particularly in West, who have been worried about the human rights and democracy situation in the Philippines."

Heydarian pointed out that Duterte's absences would give a negative reflection to the Philippines especially since the country is the country coordinator of the ASEAN-China dialogue relations from 2018 to 2021.

"It doesn’t reflect well on the Philippines given we are that ASEAN-China country coordinate for next two years, which means we handle all crucial engagements between two sides, that’s 11 countries," Heydarian said.

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

According to presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, Duterte skipped the gala dinner to rest.

Heydarian said Panelo's justification was not a very robust excuse: "Power naps are usually 15 to 45 minutes, not missing six meetings."

Meanwhile, Heydarian claimed that Duterte skipping meetings could be the "result of electing a leader in his older age," as it was not the first incident that the Philippine leader skipped important meetings with the country's key partners.

"Duterte even skipped the all important Australia-ASEAN Summit this year which was attended by all other ASEAN heads of state," Heydarian said.

"One would have expected that the President would have best deployed taxpayers money that supported his trip and contingent for conducting maximum amount of meetings with key interlocutors," he added.

Still, Panelo said Duterte, despite his non-appearance in six events, had a "productive and fruitful" second day at the ASEAN Summit. —KBK, GMA News