LIMA, Peru – President Duterte said “jet lag” made him skip a number of APEC Leaders Meeting events here, including the traditional gala dinner and leaders’ group photo.
“Alam mo kung bakit? Jet lag,” Duterte said in an interview before he left Peru. “Hindi naman ano but lightheaded because exactly at that time that’s my sleeping time back home in the Philippines.”
Duterte added “Talagang ang mata ko hindi ko mapigilan minsan and even as I was listening to the others, magsasara yung mata ko. Sabi ko mag-uwi na lang muna ako.”
The gala dinner tendered by Peru President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski took place Saturday night at the Parque dela Reserva. It featured cultural dances and Peru‘s top produce, potatoes and asparagus.
Prior to the dinner, Duterte sent word to his Peruvian hosts through Chief Presidential Marciano Paynor that he couldn’t make it.
Duterte also skipped the morning session of Sunday, which culminated in the traditional leaders picture-taking. Instead of wearing the usual traditional clothes of the host country, the leaders of APEC’s 21 member-economies each wore a brown stole/shawl made of vicuna wool, also a top product of Peru.
On both occasions, Duterte was represented by Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. Before talking about his jet lag, Duterte joked about why he skipped the events.
“I was not able to attend the socials because I wanted the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, I wanted to promote his acting career,” he said.
Duterte arrived in the Peruvian capital close to midnight of Thursday, after a 24-hour flight from Manila with a 2-hour technical stop in Auckland, New Zealand.
Despite being unable to experience the whole range of activities, Duterte described the APEC Leaders Meeting as “a productive one, very informative for me being a first timer in this kind of meeting.”
The President said the issues that struck him the most was climate change – mitigation, resilient crops, sharing of technology.
“And Russia, China, and Vietnam were the most eager countries to invite (observers). They are ready to share new technologies on mitigation,” he said.
Duterte’s love affair with Russia and China, however, didn’t just begin at the leaders meeting. Before that, he was already quite taken when he met their leaders separately on the margins of the gathering.
“You know we have become fast friends,” he said of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Mukhang parang matagal na kaming magkakilala and even the way we pat each other’s hand in a handshake.”
Of Putin, the “idol” he was meeting for the first time, Duterte said the Russian leader was so gracious as to invite him four times to visit Russia.
“And maybe [I] will go, but not on a wintry night,” he said. “I can’t stand cold. I cannot do something productive or worthwhile there.”
Putin reportedly said he was reserving a gun for Duterte. Both men are hunting enthusiasts.
And of Xi whom he was meeting right after his state visit to China, Duterte said the Chinese leader had a wide smile during their talks.