Manila: The Philippines government on Friday said President Rodrigo Duterte will not meet UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the upcoming Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit, as he has “no time”.
“The Asean summit is just a matter of few days of important meetings which President Duterte is expected to attend and he has a very busy schedule,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Charles Jose told EFE news.
The remarks came after the UN admitted on Thursday night that Duterte had refused to meet Ban next week in Laos, where the summit will take place.
Jose defended the decision, saying that Duterte has interviews scheduled with nine leaders in bilateral meetings during the summit, including Asean members and “key allies”.
“(Duterte) can not accept all (requests) and no one should say anything negative about those that have not been accepted,” said Jose.
The discord deepens the deterioration of relations between the two institutions after the UN criticised the Philippines president’s violent crackdown on drugs, resulting in the death of 2,500 people in two months, according to the latest official figures.
Responding to the criticism in August, Duterte threatened to pull the Philippines out of the UN after describing the institution as “useless” and its criticism of the controversial anti-drug campaign as “stupid”.
Duterte won the presidential elections on May 9 with the promise of ending the country’s drug problem in the first six months of his tenure, and since then he has on various occasions urged the police and citizens to execute drug dealers and users.
Nearly 2,500 deaths have been recorded in the campaign against drugs between July 1 and August 31, including 929 in police operations and 1,507 extrajudicial executions.