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Busy lolo mo! Duterte will have hectic sked in South Korea trip

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President Rodrigo Duterte will have a “very hectic” schedule during his visit to South Korea from November 25 to 26. Duterte is slated to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) – Republic of Korea (ROK) Commemorative Summit and other side events in Busan, South Korea, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Friday.

DFA Assistant Secretary for Asean Office Affairs Junever Mahilum-West said Duterte and his fellow Asean leaders were expected to discuss with South Korean President Moon Jae-in their partnership and cooperation on areas of mutual concern.

“The Asean-ROK Commemorative Summit will be attended by heads of governments or states of Asean member-states and the Republic of Korea’s President Moon Jae-in,” Mahilum-West said in a pre-departure briefing on Duterte’s participation in Asean-ROK commemorative summit.

“There are many side events, as well as of the summit, to which the President and other Asean leaders are invited to go. So, I think the schedule is very hectic at the moment,” she added.

The President’s upcoming visit to South Korea will be his second since he assumed office in 2016. He went to Seoul in June 2018 for an official visit.

However, it will be Duterte’s first time to go to Busan.

Mahilum-West said Duterte will be accompanied by several Cabinet members, but deferred to the Office of the President to release the roster of the official Philippine delegation.

She, nevertheless, revealed that Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, and Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista are among those who will be joining the President as members of the Philippine delegation.

She said the three Cabinet secretaries’ presence is necessary since the DFA, the Department of Trade and Industry, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development serve as lead agencies for the Asean’s political and security community pillar; economic pillar; and socio-cultural community pillar, respectively.

Regional security issues to be raised

Mahilum-West noted that there would be two sessions during the main summit which will be held on November 26.

She said the first session would tackle the 30 years of cooperation between Asean and South Korea while the second session would focus on their connectivity.

Asean and South Korea first established sectoral dialogue relations in November 1989.

Mahilum-West said Southeast Asian leaders and Moon would also discuss “most pressing” regional security issues, including the Korean Peninsula.

She said the commemorative summit and other side events between Asean and South Korea are expected to conclude with two outcome documents.

“And these documents are the Asean-ROK Joint Vision Statement for Peace, Prosperity, and Partnership and the Co-Chairs’ Statement on the ASEAN-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit and these two represent the strong partnership between the Asean and ROK,” the Foreign Affairs official said.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier confirmed that Duterte will hold a bilateral meeting with Moon on the sidelines of the commemorative summit.

The President on Tuesday said he and Moon would discuss security issues concerning the Southeast Asian bloc and South Korea.

South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Han Dong-man said at least four cooperation agreements in the fields of social security, education, fisheries, and tourism will be signed after the two leader’s bilateral meeting.

Mahilum-West said the signing of agreements between Manila and Seoul is still under negotiation.

“Yes, we are eyeing and anticipating to sign agreements on education, tourism, social security and perhaps, fisheries as well. But as I’ve said, negotiations are still ongoing,” she said.

Mahilum-West said Duterte has no scheduled meeting with the Filipino community in South Korea, considering his tight schedule.

To date, there are 70,000 Filipinos working, studying, and residing in South Korea.

The 74-year-old President’s visit to Busan came, despite his recent admission that his age was taking a toll on his health.

“When I decided to travel outside, it presupposes that I think kaya ko (I can manage),” he said. (PNA)

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