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Covering Trudeau & Duterte at the ASEAN Summit

It was quite an experience being part of the media coverage of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) 2017 chairship and the events, together with other bloggers. Media except for the selected pool are not allowed to cover summit venue . The limited space at PICC and the security concerns of the world leaders prohibited most of us at the International Media Center (IMC) from covering the events . I understand all these but I wished the organizers considered adding a social media pool other than visuals’ and reporters’ pool.

[covering asean summitThe International Media Center at the World Trade Center

Despite the limited coverage of the actual summit venues,  the Committee on Media Affairs and Strategic Communications (CMASC) led by the Presidential Communications and Operations Office (PCOO) did an excellent job to ensure that media received all the tools and materials to cover the ASEAN summits and related summits at IMC. The place was huge enough to accommodate 1,300 journalists and  a restful space through the social media lounge and the Relaxation area. I will write more on the the IMC but here is a walkthrough.

Despite the limitation as an accredited blogger, I got to attend press briefings by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque , Assistant Secretary Kris Ablan and from the Department of Foreign Affairs  Robespierre Bolivar at the IMC .

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

I must say a press briefing by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was widely anticipated. Never have I seen the main briefing room so packed with media . Well, there were some volunteers who eagerly waited for Trudeau.

[covering asean summitMain Briefing room at the International Media Center at World Trade Center for the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits

I wrote on Blog Watch that many are charmed by the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau .  But I find some of his social media posts too staged and a turn off especially since the trash issue has not not yet been resolved.  Like most women in the room, I  am also charmed by his good looks but I will be more impressed if his statements at the press briefing held  more substance. While everyone was thrilled with the press briefing, I looked forward to his stand on critical issues facing

Then Trudeau finally arrived after being delayed by a previous meeting. I was surprised, he just went straight to the podium without any introductions. Wow, he was really a charmer speaking in both English and French.

It was the human rights issue that perked me up. Trudeau talks about this at the 8:38 mark in the video above.

“As I mentioned to President Duterte, we are concerned with human rights, with the extrajudicial killings, impressed upon him the need for respect for the rule of law and as always offered Canada’s support and help as a friend to help move forward on what is the real challenge.”

“This is the way we engage with the world. This is the way we always will,” Trudeau added.

covering asean summit

No other world leader brought the issue of human rights, rule of law and extra-judicial killings.Though the conversation was an informal one, it still triggered a defensive reaction from the President.

Thumbs up! Selfie time.

Getting a selfie with Trudeau was a challenge so excuse me for the blurry half image, He turned right from the podium to the exit but he was met with a demand for selfies. My gosh, I nearly got dragged by the crowd. Tess Termulo took  a photo of the commotion.

“Jusko tinitilian nila si Trudeau papuntang CR hahaha ” . Photo by Tess Termulo.

President Duterte

I was curious what the President had to say. His press briefing was initially scheduled for 8:00 PM but was moved to 9:30 PM. Media needed to sign up for this which I did two days beforehand. We also needed to be there two hours before the actual press briefing which was held at PICC. A bus ferried us to a holding area for a security check and a long walk inside the PICC.

Fortunately,  the press briefing started on time. The President looked tired but I admire him for his energy. I was already tired from the four day event. In fact , I was already sleepy and I was afraid I would get caught on TV with a yawn and closed eyes.

covering asean summit

One question that I hoped he would answer was his reaction to Trudeau’s comments on the human rights issue.

That’s me on the second row taking a photo of the President.

But before answering the question, Duterte lectured  about this document listing all the bad effects of drugs like methamphetamine, cannabis, cocaine and Ecstasy . I had strong doubts that President Duterte would be “receptive” or “positive”.

Towards the end, his response to Trudeau was “I said I will not explain. It is a personal and official insult. That’s why you hear me throwing out curses and epithets.”  Duterte said Trudeau was only informed about the extrajudicial killings without even being informed about the details of the incidents.  The Philippine government should be given the “simple rule of the right to be heard” and advised Trudeau  to “not to get documents from the oppositions and the communists because they were all falsified.”

He felt insulted.

I expected him to say that. Nothing new.  At the end of the press briefing, I was given a copy of the document he showed earlier. The President wants everyone to know the harmful effects of illegal drugs.

Sharing the two leaders with conflicting comments on human rights is all I can do .

I am glad the human rights issue was brought up briefly by a world leader even if  “ASEAN chose to ignore its socio political mandates of promoting Human Rights,” according to Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat, a board member of the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights.

It is not my intention to cover the President  but I am grateful for the opportunity to get up close with these two world leaders. Both powerful men with their own conviction on what is right for their country.

It was a productive year covering the ASEAN 2017 and being part of the CMASC for 6 months . This is not the end.  I  will continue to promote ASEAN awareness , benefits and opportunities through my blog and via ASEAN Social Media Community . I look forward to Singapore ‘s turn in 2018. The ASEAN 2018 theme “A Resilient and Innovative Community”.

See you Singapore!

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