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Duterte off to Laos

President Rodrigo R. Duterte is expected to arrive in Vientiane, Laos, in time for the opening of the 28th and 29th meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

It will be Duterte’s first international journey as the President since his assumption to office last June.

The Chief Executive embarks on his first official trip just days after a deadly blast ripped through his home city of Davao, leaving 15 people dead and dozens injured.

“The trip of President Rodrigo R. Duterte (to Laos) is all set, and the government is ready as far as the programs, priorities and functions are concerned,” Malacañang said.

While the final schedule is yet to be released, Duterte is expected to meet on the sidelines with nine heads of states, including US President Barack Obama, to discuss various issues affecting the region.

Earlier, when asked what message he wants to deliver to the ASEAN community, the President he would just say that the Philippines is ready to cooperate in establishing good order among nations and to do our part internationally.

Among the topics he hopes to tackle with other world leaders, including Obama, are illegal drugs and terrorism which are plaguing many countries, including the Philippines.

And, anticipating a one-on-one meeting with China, Duterte said that he would like its Ambassador to just answer one question – “Is there any on going construction for expansion in the South China Sea?” (Elena L. Aben)