As the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Summits draws to an end, Senator Leila De Lima cannot help but point out the ‘oddities’ that happened in this prestigious event.
De Lima, in a statement on Wednesday, said that the three days of having different world leaders discuss relations and issues in Manila had several oddities which included leaving out Vice President Leni Robredo, giving a role to former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA), and inviting staunch supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte and blogger, Sass Sassot.
“It appears that in lieu of the duly-elected Vice-President Leni Robredo, who was sidelined by the Administration from the ASEAN events, the government chose in her stead former President Arroyo,” the detained Senator said.
De Lima stated that only Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and other officers could ‘fathom’ the reasons for this.
The “curious role” given to GMA that De Lima was referring to was that of “hosting ASEAN delegates in the absence of Duterte.” This included Cambodian Primer Minister Hun Sen and Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.
“[From this role] to speaking before the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit (ABIS), where she extolled the coming of the Chinese era where China purportedly will lay down its own rules as the new world leader,” De Lima added.
While the Senator was firm with her stance, the Vice President chose to not make it a big deal.
“Parang ayoko naman (I do not think I would like) to make a big deal of it,” Robredo said in a media interview when asked for her reaction for being ‘sidelined.’
For her, she is only doing her job. “Discretion naman iyon ng Pangulo kung sino ang iimbitahan o hindi. Pero tingin ko hindi naman dapat palakihin pa (It is the President’s discretion on who to invite or not. But for me, people should not make a big deal out of this issue),” she added.
Robredo was, however, invited to the opening and closing ceremonies of the ASEAN Summit. She also delivered the closing keynote speech of the ABIS on November 14.
Traditionally, past vice presidents are given bigger roles in such summits, though not having official functions, especially in the absence of the president.