President off to Delhi for India-Asean summit
In his first overseas trip for the year, President Duterte flies to New Delhi on Jan. 24 to attend the India-Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit (Asean) and India’s Republic Day.
Mr. Duterte initially wanted to beg off from the three-day trip, but the Department of Foreign Affairs urged him to make the journey as the Philippines could turn out to be the only country without a representative at the summit.
He has been cracking down on jetsetting administration officials, saying those who have taken numerous, unnecessary foreign trips have to resign. He has fired two officials for this.
During his visit, the President is also expected to pursue his interest in cheaper medicines from India, a matter he had raised during his meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Manila last year.
Mr. Duterte had told Modi that he would welcome Indian investments in the Philippines as this would give Filipinos better access to more affordable medicines.
Mr. Duterte will bring the matter up at the leaders’ level, according to Assistant Secretary for Asean Affairs Hellen Dela Vega.
“Certainly, the interest in the pharmaceutical industry is on the agenda,” Dela Vega said in a press briefing in Malacañang.
The India-Asean Commemorative Summit, scheduled on Jan. 25, is the culminating activity of the 25th anniversary of the relations between India and the regional bloc, she said.
Mr. Duterte is expected to attend a lunch with Asean leaders to be hosted by President Ram Nath Kovind.
The two-session summit will focus on maritime cooperation and on regional and international issues.
Mr. Duterte will also be one of the special guests for India’s Republic Day celebration on Jan. 26, which will include a grand ceremony and parade.
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