After skipping a few sessions at the recently concluded regional summit to attend to the country’s calamity situation, President Duterte is expected to participate in the virtual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit on November 20, Malacañang said Monday.

MAKI7 1024x682 - Duterte to participate in virtual APEC Summit on Nov. 20
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (RICHARD MADELO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO)

The President is expected to attend two sessions of the APEC Economic Leaders’ meeting this Friday, according to his spokesman Harry Roque.

Leaders from 21 Asia Pacific member economies will convene virtually this week in the forum hosted by Malaysia.  This will be the fist time APEC leaders will meet online due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The summit talks, which carry the theme “Optimising Human Potential towards a Resilient Future of Shared Prosperity: Pivot. Prioritise. Progress,” are expected to focus on addressing the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and the path to recovery.  The leaders are also expected to launch the Asia Pacific region’s vision beyond 2020 during the meeting. 

“This is on November 20 at magsisimula po ito sa gabi, magkakaroon po sila ng leaders family photo nang gabi. Pagkatapos po magkakaroon sila nang dalawang session ‘no na kung hindi ako nagkakamali eh maikli lang naman po iyong mga session (This is on November 20 and it will start in the evening.  There will be a leaders’ family photo. Afterwards, there will be two sessions. If I’m not mistaken, the sessions will be short),” Roque said during a televised press briefing.

Prior to his APEC participation, the President attended the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit and related meetings via video conference last week. Duterte however missed some ASEAN meetings, particularly the activities held on the last day of the summit last Sunday, since he had to attend to the government’s typhoon relief efforts.

“Nawala lang po si Presidente doon sa last day, totoo po iyan, kasi lumipad na siya papuntang Tuguegarao at saka Naga. Pero nagpaalam naman po ang Presidente at naintindihan naman po ng kaniyang mga kasamang mga pinuno ng iba’t ibang bansa na siyempre super typhoon habang the summit was being held (The President was not present during the last day because he flew to Tuguegarao and Naga. But the President informed his fellow leaders and they understood there was a super typhoon while the summit was being held),” Roque said.

Roque shared the President’s latest summit schedule with the media as he took a stand against restricting the public release of such “multilateral meetings.” He said there was no basis to keep such activities of the President secret.

Roque made the remarks after the Palace kept a tight lid on the President’s daily schedule, including his activities in the recent ASEAN summit, despite pleas from the media for information access and transparency.

“I am one with the media in appealing to whoever wants to restrict information on multilateral schedules na, you know, there’s no basis to keep it secret,” Roque said.

“And that is why even if the information that I received on APEC is again in a form that is secret, you know, it’s published also in the websites of the multilateral agencies, so there’s no reason why we should keep it secret,” he added.

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