MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III left the Philippines for Cambodia Saturday night to attend the 21st ASEAN Summit.
Aquino, who is reportedly ill, decided to push through with the trip despite having experienced “bouts of fever and muscle pains.”
Presidential deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a statement that the President did not cancel his trip “in light of the preparations already made and the importance of the gathering for the formation of a regional consensus to ensure stability and peace in ASEAN.”
“The President also believes recent developments in other parts of the world require dialogue among ASEAN and other leaders on the potential economic and security impact of these events on the region,” Valte added.
She said the President was diagnosed with Influenza and Allergic Rhinitis following his trips to Occidental Mindoro and Tagaytay.
The President rested most of Friday but had to interview Associate Justice candidates before his flight on Saturday, Valte said.
Aquino is set to meet with his counterparts from ASEAN and leaders of the East Asian Partners (EAS) at the summit to discuss relationships in East Asia.
He is also expected to discuss maritime security and cooperation in the West Philippine Sea, human rights and protection of migrants workers.
“Dadalo rin tayo sa mga pagpupulong kasama ang mga bansa mula sa iba’t ibang panig ng mundo, tulad ng New Zealand, Australia, Russia, Amerika, at India,” Aquino said in his departure speech.
The President also said he aims to introduce the “new” Philippines to the world.
“Sa iisang diwa pa rin nakasandig ang biyaheng ito: ang muli’t muling maipakilala ang bagong Pilipinas sa buong mundo—mas aktibo, mas progresibo, at mas handang humarap sa mga hamon ng panahon,” he said.
The delegation attending the summit from November 18 to 20 includes Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, PCOO Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., and Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan.