The Daily Manila Shimbun


Duterte would rather stay than go to Japan, but DFA in communication with envoy: Abella

May 30, 2017

President Rodrigo Duterte would rather stay in the country than push with his trip to Japan early next month. Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said this in a press briefing in Malacanang when asked if Duterte would proceed with his trip to Tokyo to attend a conference on June 5 to 6. But Abella could not give a categorical statement on the president's schedule. "As of now, I still don’t have the update as promised now. You have to understand that the President is faced with a lot of --- a multitude of situations. So we cannot simply presume on it," he said. "But as far as we know, he would rather stay here," Abella added. Duterte has declared martial law in Mindanao last week after the Islamic State-linked Maute Terror Group sow chaos in Marawi City. The terrorists have remained in the area. Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, in an interview at the Department of Foreign Affairs office, said he would make a statement on Tuesday night or Wednesday. "The assessment is still being done day by day. But I am in constant communication with the Japanese ambassador," he said, noting he met Japanese Ambassador to Manila Kazuhide Ishikawa on Monday and Tuesday. "But we are still looking at some possibilities. Maybe by tonight or tomorrow, we can announce if it will continue or not, or whatever will happen," Cayetano said. While news reports said Nikkei Inc., which invited Duterte to speak at the 23rd International Conference on the Future of Asia on June 5 and 6 in Tokyo, announced that Duterte could not make it to the event, Cayetano said, "I have no knowledge about the Nikkei announcement. I’m in touch with the Japanese government, the Japanese ambassador." He said attending the conference was supposedly only one of the "highlights" if the president would go to Japan. "But there is also the audience with the Royal Highness, the Emperor and the Empress. There’s also the bilateral (meeting) with Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe. So, these are all now being discussed but I’d like to thank the Japanese government for understanding the situation and that we are monitoring the situation hour by hour, day by day," Cayetano explained. (Celerina Monte/DMS)