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Duterte defends absence at ASEAN-Australia meeting: Anong ipakain nila? Kangaroo?

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President Rodrigo Duterte has downplayed his absence at some meetings in the recently concluded ASEAN Summit in Singapore, saying he didn’t attend at least one event because it was informal in nature.

In a speech before the Filipino community in Papua New Guinea Friday (November 16), Duterte said he skipped the ASEAN-Australia meeting because it was scheduled early and it was informal.

The meeting was scheduled at 8:30 a.m. on November 14 and was the first event of the second day of the ASEAN Summit.

“Itong mga Australia ‘no hindi ko rin maintindihan, eh 8:30 ang invitation informal breakfast. Sabi ko sa mga sundalo bakit ako magpunta doon na unang-una hindi ako kumakain ng breakfast. Eh totoo matulog man… Eh pangalawa, informal man. Anong ipakain nila diyan sa atin informal? Kangaroo?” Duterte remarked.

The President added that he and his entourage arrived in Singapore past 1:30 a.m. on November 14 and had to fix their things first before resting.

Duterte has drawn flak from critics for missing a total of six meetings at the regional summit, which was attended by world leaders.

Malacañang defended the President, saying he needed to take “power naps” due to the grueling schedule of the event.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo noted that Duterte wasn’t the only head of state who missed meetings at the ASEAN Summit.

“Their absence in those meetings did not make them lazy or seriously ill to perform their duties as Presidents of the their respective countries,” he said.