MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte will attend the virtual Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders' summit set from Oct. 26 to 28 via video conferencing, his office said Monday.
The assembly will be attended by leaders of ASEAN member states, the bloc's secretary-general, non-ASEAN East Asia Summit members, and heads of the World Health Organization and World Trade Organization.
Duterte's office said he will discuss with other ASEAN state leaders the region's COVID-19 response and recovery efforts, among other concerns.
"With the theme 'We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper', the 38th and 39th ASEAN Summits and Related Summits are expected to adopt more than 20 outcome documents on various issues of key concern," the office said in a statement.
Duterte will be accompanied by key Cabinet members, including Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, and Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista, it said.
ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Earlier, the Philippines with Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore reportedly pushed for a harder stance against Myanmar junta leader Min Aung Hlaing and decided to exclude him from the upcoming regional summit.
Chair Brunei, with majority backing, chose to keep him from attending the upcoming virtual ASEAN leaders' summit set for Oct. 26 to 28.
Locsin said before the meeting that the bloc could no longer afford to take a neutral stance on Myanmar, which has sunk further in armed and political conflict, adding that if the association relented, "our credibility as a real regional organization disappears."
"We’re a bunch of guys who always agree with each other on the worthless things," he said.
— With a report from Reuters