Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he declined U.S. President Donald Trump’s invitation for a summit with Southeast Asian leaders in March and is prohibiting his Cabinet officials from going to America.
Duterte said his decision to skip the U.S.-Asean summit was “for strategic and geopolitical reasons.” He rejected criticisms that his decision to end the Visiting Forces Agreement with the U.S. was out of a whim after the U.S. visa of Senator Ronald dela Rosa, Duterte’s former police chief who oversaw the deadly drug war, was canceled.
“I will do it not only for dela Rosa but for every Filipino,” Duterte told reporters late Wednesday. “No Cabinet member should be allowed to go to the United States” save for the foreign affairs secretary.
Since becoming president in 2016, Duterte has repeatedly threatened to “break up” the Southeast Asian nation’s alliance with the U.S., while warming ties with China.
Duterte said he won’t stop the entry of Chinese tourists in the Philippines amid an outbreak of the deadly novel coronavirus.
“At this time there is no known protocol by which we can follow to combat the disease,” Duterte said. “What we can do is to limit the people entering maybe the Philippines. It could include China but at this time, I am not for it. It would not be fair.”