MANILA, Philippines – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will be off to Bali, Indonesia this week to attend a meeting with other Southeast Asian leaders.
Duterte will be participating in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Leaders' Gathering on Thursday, October 11, said Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Junever Mahilum West in a Malacañang press briefing on Monday, October 8.
The gathering proper will take place on Thursday afternoon and is expected be an "informal roundtable" lasting around two and a half hours, she said.
Aside from ASEAN leaders, the meeting will include the International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
ASEAN is expected to affirm its "commitment to support IMF, World Bank, and the UN's role in addressing development challenges," said Mahilum-West.
Other topics that will be covered by the high-level discussions are "climate change, alleviating poverty, promoting women's empowerment, energy efficiency, micro, small, and medium enterprises, agriculture, education, health, food and nutrition, enhancing social security and promoting decent work for all."
Duterte himself will highlight the Philippines' efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and will urge parties to strengthen support for MSME development.
He will also make a "call for economic resilience amid prevailing global economic uncertainties," said the foreign affairs official.
Meeting with Widodo
Arrangements are being made for Duterte to have a bilateral meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who will be co-chairing the ASEAN Leaders' Gathering with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
During his meeting with Widodo, Duterte may personnally hand over the Philippines' assistance to Indonesia for the recent tsunami that has killed hundreds and left thousands missing.
"We will give some help and it will be coursed through the AHA Center (ASEAN Coordinating Center for Humanitarian Assistance) and this is a good chance for the President to personally relay to President Joko Widodo our assistance," said Mahilum-West.
She also said Duterte could have "up to 3" bilateral meetings while in Bali but declined to name the Southeast Asian leaders involved because arrangements were not yet finalized.
Because the trip will be a quick one, Duterte will not be attending any gathering with Bali's Filipino community.
Because of the Bali meeting, Duterte will not be in the Philippines on the first day of filing of certificates of candidacy for those running in the 2019 elections.
The period of filing begins on October 11 and ends on October 17. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.