MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte went on defense mode Thursday after being criticized for sleeping while other world leaders held meetings in Singapore for an annual summit.
Duterte on Wednesday missed the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summits with Australia and South Korea, a working lunch with ASEAN host and Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Summit. He also opted to skip the gala dinner hosted by Singapore, this year’s ASEAN chairman.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the President was exhausted and had to take “power naps” during the times he missed the events. Panelo, however, downplayed the President’s absence in the meetings.
Asked whether he is now feeling better after his power naps, Duterte told reporters: “Still not good enough, but enough to sustain the endurance for the last days. Why what’s wrong with my nap? I do not eat breakfast and I’m sure you ladies know that.”
In between the summits he missed, Duterte managed to attend the ASEAN meetings with China, Russia, and Japan.
The President also had a bilateral meeting with Singapore’s Lee.
Duterte will have a bilateral meeting with Japan’s Abe on Thursday, the last day of the annual summit.
Duterte arrived at the summit venue in time for the first meeting.
He and ASEAN leaders are scheduled to hold summits with leaders of the United States, India, and the “ASEAN Plus Three” countries composed of China, Japan and South Korea. They will also attend the East Asia Summit Lunch Retreat and Plenary, and the summit’s closing ceremony.