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President Duterte, known for his expletive language, has shown some sophistication in dealing with leaders of some ASEAN countries who engaged him in bilateral talks on the issue of South China Sea, the drug menace and other key issues in the region.
In a televised press briefing from Laos, Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said he was drawn to how Duterte transforms with sophistication during talks with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien, Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.
Abella describes the President as an emerging leader in the ASEAN. The Palace executive also talked about how warmly Duterte has been received by counterparts.
“He is admirable,” Abella added, noting the President’s demeanor during the meetings– which initially, suffered a setback from the cancellation of a meeting with US President Barrack Obama on Tuesday.
From wearing the traditional barong, Duterte also wore a black suit on the second day of the ASEAN summit when he joined leaders for a retreat.
Presidential Communications Sec. Martin Andanar has described the moods at the meetings as “serious but happy.”
Responding to a query by a foreign journalist on what they have learned about Duterte who had his debut in the international stage during the ASEAN summit, Andanar said he was surprised how popular the Philippine president has become among the leaders.
“We also learned that President Duterte is a rockstar, not just in our country, but also in Lao and Japan… how other delegates scramble to get a selfie with the President,” Andanar said.
Palace attributed Duterte’s popularity not to his cursings and lambasting of other leaders but on his political will to fight drugs in the country, and his way of doing things as president.

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