MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday missed the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' photo shoot and gala dinner in Lima, Peru because he was not feeling well, his Cabinet officials said Monday.
"Wala si Presidente, masama ang pakiramdam," Communications Secretary Martin Andanar explained in a press briefing.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the President started feeling unwell during the dialogue between APEC leaders and Pacific Alliance Presidents on Sunday afternoon.
"Noon pa lang last meeting na kasama natin ang Presidente, iyun 'yung afternoon sa Pacific Alliance at Mark Zuckerberg na session, that's the last meeting in that afternoon, noong natapos iyung meeting, binubulong na niya sa amin ni Sec. Bong (Salvador Medialdea) na ang sama ng pakiramdam niya, baka 'di na ako maka-attend mamaya. Hindi nga siya masyadong makasalita na," Lopez shared.
Reporters however asked if the President skipped the events to avoid interacting with other leaders like US President Barack Obama whom he previously lambasted after the American leader criticized the Philippines' brutal war on drugs.
In reply, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said "we could not determine the direction of the eyes of both."
Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay represented Duterte in the gala dinner and leaders' photo shoot.
Before the two events, Duterte secured promises of trade investments from Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
-- Report from Lynda Jumilla, ABS-CBN News