Sniffles forces Aquino to skip Asean dinnerBy DJ Yap
Philippine Daily Inquirer
PHNOM PENH—Suffering from the sniffles, President Benigno Aquino admitted he was not in his best condition as he attended meeting after meeting at the 21st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit and related meetings here.
On Monday evening, the flu-stricken President left a gala dinner for Asean and other world leaders early, telling his hosts he needed to rest.
But before retiring for the night, he stopped to brief Philippine media people at the Sofitel hotel here, where he was billeted.
“I can’t say I’m at my 100 percent now. As you may have noticed, my voice is scratchy and I have a cold … But otherwise I think I manage,” he said.
Mr. Aquino said his troubles began during his trips to New Zealand and Australia, where he was exposed to pollen. “My visit there was during spring and it was colder compared to the Philippines,” he said.
He said Health Secretary Enrique Ona had been telling him to rest or take a vacation “and I only said we will get there.”
Opportunity to be heard
Mr. Aquino said he had been trying to push himself. “Like now, it’s the nation’s interest at stake, which is why I should get through this,” he said.
He said he was trying not to miss any opportunity to be heard on issues facing Asean, especially on matters of importance to the Philippines, mainly the territorial dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Since the summit’s opening, Mr. Aquino has spoken in all the sessions, including during side meetings with Japan, Korea, India, China and the United States, except on one occasion when time ran out.
Mr. Aquino said he had no particular expectations going to the summit, except to make the most of his chances to speak up and convey the Philippine position on regional issues.