VIENTIANE, Laos – President Rodrigo Dutere and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon were able to shake hands during the gala dinner hosted by Laos for the visiting leaders Wednesday night, as shown in a photo provided by the Palace.
Duterte skipped a photo session with the UN chief and was not able to read the Philippine statement during the ASEAN-UN Summit.
The Palace said the absence was not deliberate as Duterte had to be in the presidential palace for a courtesy call with Lao PDR President Bounnhang Vorachith.
Senator Alan Peter Cayetano said activities had to be "pushed back" because some events took longer than expected.
"The activities and the forums were all pushed back in terms of time and the President of Lao PDR had a schedule with the Philippine delegation in the presidential palace that's why it was Secretary (Pefecto) Yasay who read the Philippine statement and he did have a conversation with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon," Cayetano said.
Duterte's scheduled bilateral meeting with Australia also had to be cancelled because of time constraints.
"The schedule was pushed back because there were times during the bilateral and the ASEAN and China, ASEAN and Australia, it took longer than expected. So nagkasabay-sabay po yung events," Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said.
Contrary to what was reported in a press release from the Presidential Communications Office, Duterte was not seated between Obama and Ban but actually between Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
The PCO took responsibility for the error.
"It was supposed to happen tomorrow (Thursday) once the Lao PDR transfers the chairmanship to our country and based on the protocol, we were made to believe that it was going to be our President, the President of Lao and then Barack Obama or vice versa… But then again, things can be changed right on the spot," Andanar said.
Cayetano said people may have gotten excited by the possibility of the three leaders sitting beside each other.
"If it was about tonight, we are again a victim of imagination, speculation and possibilities because I asked that to a couple of our ambassadors, DFA people. (They said) ‘we don't know where that came from because it was never announced and they would only assure us that they will not put anyone of the delegates in a compromis[ing situation].’”