PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte had to skip the meeting between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and United Nations (UN) Monday evening because he was still holding bilateral meetings with other leaders.
Foreign Affairs spokesperson Robespierre Bolivar said Duterte had presided over several meetings between the Asean and its dialogue partners. On the sidelines, he also held bilateral dialogues with some heads of state, including United States President Donald Trump, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
"President Duterte had several bilateral meetings last night, including with Japan, Korea, India, and Russia," Bolivar said.
"The meetings were already running beyond schedule so to avoid further delaying the Asean-UN Summit, it was decided that SFA represent the President while he (Duterte) was meeting bilaterally with the other leaders," he added. SFA refers to Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alan Peter Cayetano.
Duterte has been critical of the UN, whose special rapporteurs have repeatedly criticized the President's war on narcotics trade in the Philippines.
On November 9, Duterte threatened to "slap" UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions Agnes Callamard if she pursues her plan to investigate the government's war on illegal drugs.
"Callamard, I will slap you if you investigate me," said Duterte in a speech delivered before the Filipino community in Vietnam.
Callamard has been mulling to conduct an inquiry into human rights violations allegedly committed under Duterte's brutal crackdown on illegal drugs. Duterte, however, imposed three conditions - that she agree to a public debate with Duterte, allow him to question her, and take an oath. (SunStar Philippines)