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Lawmakers slam president’s snoozes during Singapore summit

Opposition lawmakers on Thursday twitted President Duterte for missing key meetings at the 33rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit on Wednesday because he took, in Malacañang’s words, “power naps.”

Act Teachers Rep. France Castro said Mr. Duterte wasted public funds by sleeping during important events at the summit.

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“He’s not maximizing his opportunity to speak to other leaders regarding the problems [of] our country,” Castro told reporters.

Castro asked whether Mr. Duterte ditched some meetings to avoid being questioned about his “pro-China policy.”

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“Is he avoiding being put to task by other countries with claims [in the South China Sea] due to his being China’s meek lamb?” Castro asked.

Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano said Mr. Duterte’s skipping summit events showed his lack of interest “in engaging with our Asean neighbors in [their] pursuit of a more integrated region.”

Alejano said that at international events, Mr. Duterte must represent the Philippines “with sound body and mind.”

“If something ails him so much that he is unable to exercise his duties as President, he must seek immediate medical attention,” Alejano said.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said Mr. Duterte missed Asean events because he was either “too sick or too lazy and irresponsible.”

“Either way, that’s a big problem for our country,” Trillanes said.

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But Sen. Panfilo Lacson said he suspected Mr. Duterte skipped events to avoid certain world leaders because of previous animosities.

Lacson noted that among the events that Mr. Duterte skipped were the Asean-Australia Informal Breakfast Summit and the working lunch with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Australia and Canada have raised concerns about alleged extrajudicial killings in Mr. Duterte’s brutal war on drugs.

There’s also the Canadian trash that has been dumped in the Philippines and that Filipino officials say must be sent back to Canada, Lacson said.

He said he found it hard to believe that Mr. Duterte actually took a nap to catch up on sleep, as explained by Malacañang.

“For me, that’s a very flimsy excuse,” Lacson said.

“I don’t see the wisdom of not attending an event attended by other heads of state just to have a power nap,” he added.

But the Philippines did not really miss out much even after Mr. Duterte skipped the events, Lacson said.

He said that in his experience, talks happened in formal events but positive outcomes came with the follow-through by Cabinet officials.

Talks at the ministerial level are the more important meetings, he added.   —REPORTS FROM JEROME ANING AND LEILA B. SALAVERRIA

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