Duterte declines invitation to ASEAN meeting with US in May

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In this photo provided by the Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures as he meets cabinet officials at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila, Philippines on March 7, 2022. The Philippine president is ready to open the country's facilities to American forces under a 1951 mutual defense treaty if Russia's war in Ukraine turns for the worse and embroils the United States in the fighting, Manila's ambassador to Washington said Thursday, March 10. (King Rodriguez/Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division via AP)
In this photo provided by the Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures as he meets cabinet officials at the Malacañang presidential palace in Manila, Philippines on March 7, 2022. (King Rodriguez/Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division via AP)

Citing proximity to the upcoming national elections on May 9, outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte has declined United States President Joe Biden’s invitation for a conference with the Southeast Asian leaders which will be held on May 12 and 13 in Washington, USA.

Duterte said it would "look bad" for him to attend the US-ASEAN meeting just as the country elects its leaders this May 9.

"Mahirapan ako kasi at that time, tapos na ang election, may alam na tayo kung sino ang maging, ma-proclaim na presidente (It will be difficult for me at the time, because the elections will already be done and we will know already who will be proclaimed president)," Duterte said on Wednesday (April 27).

He added that he is the only ASEAN leader who would not attend the meet, noting that he would not want to offend the next president if he makes commitments during the summit.

"Ang mahirap kasi kung ako ang nandoon, I might make a stand that would not be acceptable to the next administration... ASEAN 'yan and I think everybody feels the desire to attend the event (If I was there, it would be difficult as I might make a stand that would not be acceptable for the next administration. I think everybody feels the desire to attend the [ASEAN] event)," Duterte noted.

Biden will reportedly host leaders from the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations on May 12-13 in Washington, signaling U.S. efforts to engage with the group in competition with China for regional influence.

In a statement on April 16, US Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the summit will "build on" Biden’s previously announced $102-million programs on COVID-19 recovery and health security, the climate crisis, economic growth, and promoting gender equality.

Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Philippine politics and events. She regularly follows worldwide and local happenings. She advocates for animal welfare and press freedom.

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