Press Release
September 3, 2016

Bigger blast fallout if Digong cancels Laos trip - Recto

Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto is backing President Duterte's decision to scratch his Brunei trip but is urging him to attend the ASEAN Leaders' Summit in Laos "as cancelling it might lead to the international impression that terrorists have succeeded in grounding the Philippine leader."

"If he goes to Laos as planned, then the President is heeding his own call that terrorism should not disrupt our daily lives," Recto said.

He warned that "any cancellation of the President's debut in the world stage would globalize the fallout"from Friday night's Davao City night market explosion as "terrorists would surely seize the free publicity and brag that they have effectively detained the President."

Recto described the Laos meet--where 10 ASEAN leaders will join U.S. President Barack Obama, Russian president Vladimir Putin and other world leaders in a summit from September 6 to 8--as "more than an opportunity for selfies and groufies, but a great chance to state our cause."

"We need him there to assure the world, especially investors, tourists and businessmen, that while we have been hit by terrorism, government is on top of the situation and everything is under control," Recto said.

"The alternative is that if he fails to make it there, his absence will be more pronounced, the opportunity to assure the world will be forfeited, and the problems we are facing will be blown out of proportion," he added.

"The best place to make comforting statements and correct disinformation is where the international media will descend, and that will be in Laos," he said.

It is also in Laos that "he can receive messages of solidarity, aid and support" from world leaders who arealso battling terrorism," Recto said.

Skipping the Laos summit will also allow China to dominate the discussions on the South China Sea, Recto said. "He must be there to serve as a foil when China spins its own take on the issue."

If Duterte's first trip abroad as president will be scrapped, "then we will play right into the hands of the terrorists who would like to magnify the mayhem they have created," Recto said.

Recto said Duterte will only be away "for about 100 hours. He is not going to the moon, but to places not more than 4 hours away by air from Manila."

"And during that time, he can be updated in real-time. Pwede sya i-text, i-Skype o i-Viber. He will always be online. One important thing that should not be forgotten is that he has a competent national security team here," he stressed.

Recto said the Laos summit also provides the Philippine president with the chance to have either formal talks or informal "pull-asides" with the leaders of Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

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