Duterte skips summit meetings but is in ‘top shape’

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte attended the ASEAN-China Summit in Singapore Nov. 14. (Reuters)
Updated 14 November 2018
0

Duterte skips summit meetings but is in ‘top shape’

  • An official named four scheduled events that Duterte had not attended on Wednesday, during which the president “took power naps” to catch up on sleep
  • Duterte’s health has been a constant source of speculation since he disappeared from public view for a week last year

SINGAPORE: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte skipped several meetings at an Asia-Pacific summit in Singapore on Wednesday, prompting the 73-year-old’s office to issue a statement scotching speculation that it was due to ill health.
“We assure the nation that his aforementioned absence has nothing to do with his physical health and wellbeing which have been the subject of speculation,” spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
“The president’s constantly punishing work schedule is proof that he is in top physical shape.”
Panelo named four scheduled events that Duterte had not attended on Wednesday, during which the president “took power naps” to catch up on sleep, and said he would also skip a gala dinner with the leaders of nine Southeast Asian nations, US Vice President Mike Pence and several others.
Duterte’s health has been a constant source of speculation since he disappeared from public view for a week last year, and he has said openly that he is tired and would like to step down before the end of his term ends in 2022.
Last month Duterte’s office revealed that he had undergone a colonoscopy and he told reporters that a biopsy had shown he did not have cancer.
The constitution provides for the public to be told of the state of health of an incumbent president, if serious.
If a sitting president dies, is permanently disabled or removed through impeachment, the vice president succeeds to serve the remaining years in a six-year, single term.
Vice President Leni Robredo, a leader of the opposition, was elected separately in 2016. Speculation about Duterte’s health last month prompted concern that the Philippines could be headed for uncertainty given the highly polarized political climate.
Duterte has cited Robredo’s “incompetence” as a reason for his inability to quit as president.
Duterte has a record of skipping summit sessions, though he did not miss any as host when the Philippines held the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) last year.
Panelo said it was “amusing that some quarters are making a big fuss” of Duterte’s absences, noting that he had attended ASEAN meetings with leaders from China, Japan and Russia.
“Last night, the president worked late and had only less than three hours of sleep,” he said. “It is unfortunate that the first event scheduled today was at 8:30a.m.”
Duterte is known for having an unorthodox working schedule that typically starts mid-afternoon and includes cabinet meetings that can go on beyond midnight.


Japan probe seems to have landed on asteroid: space agency

Updated 10 min 22 sec ago
0

Japan probe seems to have landed on asteroid: space agency

  • Probe to fire a “bullet” into the asteroid’s surface to stir up surface matter, which the probe will then collect for analysis back on Earth
  • Scientists hope the samples may provide answers to some fundamental questions about life and the universe

TOKYO: A Japanese probe that aims to examine a distant asteroid for clues about the origin of the solar system appears to have landed successfully Friday, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA said.
“We confirmed data communication with the probe recovered after the touchdown, and it seems that touchdown was successful, but we have to analyze various data that we are receiving step by step... before the final confirmation,” JAXA spokeswoman Chizato Ikuta told AFP.
Such confirmation is expected in a few hours given the distance between the probe and Earth.
A live webcast of the control room showed dozens of JAXA staff members nervously monitoring data ahead of the touchdown before exploding into applause after receiving a signal from the probe, Hayabusa2, that it had landed.
Another JAXA spokeswoman, Azusa Yabe, said they had received data showing a change of speed and direction — that the probe had changed from descending to rising back toward its orbiting position.
This indicates a successful landing but the agency still needs to check various other parts of the probe to be able to confirm.
The probe is scheduled to fire a “bullet” into the asteroid’s surface to stir up surface matter, which the probe will then collect for analysis back on Earth.
The asteroid is thought to contain relatively large amounts of organic matter and water from some 4.6 billion years ago when the solar system was born.
Scientists hope the samples may provide answers to some fundamental questions about life and the universe, including whether elements from space helped give rise to life on Earth.