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Philippines’ Duterte to cut short APEC trip, officials say

In this handout photo provided by the Presidential Photographers Division, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, center, looks at dancers wearing traditional dress as he arrives at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, on Friday, Nov. 16, 2018. Duterte will cut short his attendance to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Papua New Guinea just days after coming under criticism for skipping some regional meetings in Singapore. (Richard Madelo via AP)

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (AP) — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will cut short his participation in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Papua New Guinea, officials said Friday. He has come under criticism for skipping some regional meetings earlier in Singapore.

Duterte will attend the first of two days of annual meetings of leaders from 21 APEC countries on Saturday in Port Moresby and then fly home later in the day, a Philippine government statement said. It gave no reason for Duterte’s early departure.

Duterte, 73, missed some meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on Wednesday in Singapore to take “power naps,” according to his spokesman, Salvador Panelo, who added that the president’s heavy workload has caused him to lose sleep.

Duterte flew early Friday to Papua New Guinea, where he delivered a rambling speech to Filipino workers centering on his anti-drug crackdown that has left thousands of suspects dead in the Philippines.

Panelo played down Duterte’s absence and pointed out the non-appearance of U.S. President Donald Trump, who is being represented by Vice President Mike Pence in the meetings in Asia.

“Accusation that the president is lazy or (too) seriously ill to perform his functions as head of state and government just because he had to take power naps in between a few events … and avoid the embarrassment of dozing off during one of the meetings is a product of a witless if not a malicious mind,” Panelo said in a statement.

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