Yasay on Duterte global stage debut: He was brilliant

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JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. called President Rodrigo Duterte’s debut on the global stage “brilliant”  despite his spat with US President Barack Obama which dominated the buzz in the recently concluded Asean Summit in Laos.

In an interview with reporters at the Shangri-La Hotel here, Yasay said: “He was brilliant and superb, and on a scale of 1 to 10… I give him a high score of 8.5.” Yasay cited Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Long among his admirers.

“They were impressed with his performance, what he said, his insights and diplomatic decorum, and his ability to understand what was happening around the world,” said Yasay.

Amid  criticisms of  human rights violations, Yasay claimed that the President was “able to express and articulate the concerns we wanted to raise. particularly our efforts in the fight against illegal and illicit drugs and the  steps we have taken consistent  with the Constitution, rule, of law and upholding human rights and the recognition  of due process in so far as the prosecution, suppression and rehabilitation of those convened.”

Yasay confirmed that the President made a presentation during the closed-doors East Asian summit which was “preceded with an impromptu speech of what he felt were unfair criticisms  especially with respect to violation of human rights.”

The Agence France-Presse report  claimed that the leaders and official in the East Asia meeting, which included Obama, were “quiet and shocked” while Duterte presented a picture of the killing made by American soldiers during the American occupation period from 1898 to 1946.

But Yasay digressed, saying: “I  don’t know what was the basis (of that statement) which I can neither confirm or deny  because the situation was never tense.”

“Rest assured what the President said and the statements he made in the intervention comments were received well by many,” said Yasay.

“I will affirm that Obama was there but he did not react, he just sat there and listened to the President attentively,” said Yasay who noted that Obama didn’t say anything.

When the President left the meeting ahead because of a bilateral meeting with Russia in the same hour, Yasay said the President had the opportunity to “meet with Obama, chat with him, and the shaking of hands [was] warm.”


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