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Duterte leaves for Singapore on ‘borrowed’ private jet

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte left the country on Thursday on board a “borrowed” private jet to attend the 32nd Association of Southeast East Asian Summit (Asean) leaders’ summit and meet with members of the business and Filipino communities in Singapore.

In his departure speech, Duterte confirmed that he would take a private plane instead of chartering a commercial plane for his trip.

“If you now want to know kung ano ‘yung eroplano ko, it’s a jet which I borrowed but I will have to pay for the fuel and the pilots. Tsaka nagkuha ng private stewardess,” Duterte said.

“Maliit ang eroplano. Hindi kami makagalaw. So makitid masyado. But still — it’s there… Kung gusto ninyong makita ‘yung eroplano because everybody is asking who is going to do this o magkano… Wala… I’ll pay for the gas and the allowances. Hindi sweldo, allowances lang ng piloto pati one stewardess,” he added.

(The plane is small. We can’t move. It’s very narrow . . . If you want to see the plane because everybody is asking who is going to do this and how much . . . none . . . I’ll pay for the gas and the allowances. No salaries, only allowances for the pilot and one stewardess.)

Duterte will join other leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) on Friday and Saturday for their 32nd summit, which Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will host.

“Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s invitation provides the opportunity for Southeast Asian nations to continue working closely to further strengthen community-building and advance greater peace, security and stability in the region. As a responsible state, the Philippines remains committed to engage our partners to achieve the change that we want and need,” Duterte said.

He said Singapore’s theme of a Resilient and Innovative Asean helps push forward the thematic priorities the Philippines pursued during its chairmanship in last year’s Asean Summit.

“Technology and innovation will be the key instruments in achieving inclusive and sustainable growth. With the technology and innovation, we can also further enhance the regional interconnectivity and address traditional and emerging threats,” he said.

The President also said the Philippines would continue to work towards the realization of Asean Vision 2025 by identifying and prioritizing initiatives that would move forward action lines in the Asean’s political-security, economic, and socio-cultural communities.

“We shall promote the further implementation (and operationalization) of outcome documents, particularly the Asean Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers and the Asean Declaration (on) the Role of the Civil Service as Catalyst to Realize Asean Vision 2025,” Duterte said.

“Rest assured that your government will take every opportunity [and]use every available venue to uphold and protect the rights of our countrymen working abroad,” he added.

Apart from attending the Asean Opening ceremony and Leaders’ Retreat on April 28, Duterte is expected to have a bilateral meeting with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on the sidelines of the summit.

A possible meeting is also being worked out between Duterte and his counterparts from Indonesia, Mynamar or Vietnam.

Duterte is also expected to meet with members of the business community in Singapore to invite them to invest in the country, as well as members of the Filipino community there to check on their situations and update them on the developments in the country.

The President is expected to return to the country late Saturday night, April 28.

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