Diplomats not invited to Philippines national address
The European Union (EU) and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) were not invited to President Rodrigo Duterte's State of the Nation Address (SONA) last Monday, Rappler, a Philippine-based online news agency reported Wednesday.
Both groups confirmed they had not received invitations from Congress, which coordinates with the presidential office.
This is the first time that the EU was not invited to the address, which according to the report, broke a decades-long tradition.
Former communications undersecretary and historian, Manuel L. Quezon III, told Rappler members of the diplomatic corps have always been invited to the address.
"The diplomatic corps attends inaugurals for the same reason as the SONA: It is also the venue where the Philippine government through the President can inform the world of its intentions for the coming year," Quezon said.
It was also the first time in recent years that the CHR was not invited to the SONA, CHR Chairperson Jose Luis Martin Gascon confirmed.
"I think that it's the prerogative of the leaders of the Congress as to who they wish to invite to come to their event," Gascon told Rappler.
The EU Parliament, the lawmaking body of the 28-country regional bloc, and the CHR, have been strong critics of Duterte's anti-drug campaign and the alleged extrajudicial killings related to it.