Philippines Says Nobel Absence Is Not a Boycott

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MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines insisted its commitment to human rights remained strong, despite its absence at this year’s Nobel Peace Prize ceremony honoring jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, reports Confusion arose on Friday after some news media reported that Nobel Institute Director Geir Lundestad said the Philippines had reversed its stance on skipping today’s ceremony in Norway.

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo affirmed that the country’s ambassador to Norway would not be attending the ceremony, reports ABS-CBNNews. Romulo said Elizabeth Buensuceso, the Philippines' ambassador to Norway, Denmark and Iceland, was on a consular mission in Denmark and could not attend the ceremony.

"We are not sending any representative because we have 10,000 Filipinos in Copenhagen and the ambassador has to be there," said Romulo, who was interviewed during a ceremony marking International Human Rights Day in Malacañang Palace [ the Philippine presidential palace].

Eduardo Malaya, a spokesperson for the foreign affairs department, said that invitations to the Nobel ceremony are for ambassadors only, and that proxies are not allowed to attend. Manila has come under fire from global human rights advocates who allege that the Philippines government is bowing to pressure from China, a key economic ally. Those ties were already strained after a botched rescue of a hijacked bus that left eight Hong Kong tourists dead last August.