President Rodrigo Duterte’s partner, Cielito “Honeylet” Avanceña, appears to have attended US First Lady Melania Trump’s luncheon for the spouses of world leaders in one of the side events of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
A short video Melania posted on Twitter showed the highlights of her hosting UNGA luncheon, in which she delivered a speech against cyberbullying.
At the 0:37 mark, a woman who looked like Honeylet was caught on video talking to a man just behind Turkey’s First Lady Emine Erdogan.
Malacañang has yet to confirm Honeylet’s attendance at Melania’s luncheon but a source close to President Rodrigo Duterte confirmed that she did.
Duterte decided to skip the UNGA, as he wanted to focus on the siege of Marawi City, presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella previously said.
After she was spotted watching Miss Saigon on Broadway, Abella said Avanceña was in New York on the invitation of the US First Lady.
He later added that Avanceña went to New York in a personal capacity.
Avanceña played the role of Philippine First Lady in past official events.
During the ASEAN Summit, Avanceña helped Duterte welcome leaders from Japan, Indonesia, and Brunei. She even joined Japanese First Lady Akie Abe when the latter visited a cemetery in Davao City.
She also joined Duterte in Cambodia for the World Economic Forum where she spent time at a children’s hospital with daughter Veronica “Kitty” Duterte.
During the ASEAN Summit in April, Avanceña hosted a tour of the National Museum for the spouses of the visiting Southeast Asian leaders.
In May, Avanceña joined the spouses program at the Forbidden City led by Chinese First Lady Peng Liyuan on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.
At a briefing, presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Avanceña was invited to a UNGA side event hosted by Melania. He didn’t provide additional details.
“[Avanceña] received an invitation to attend an event given by—hosted by the First Lady of the United States and that she went on a personal capacity,” Abella said.
Abella also said Avanceña has “personal financial capacity” to fund her trip amid speculations that she may have used taxpayers’ money for it.
“No child should ever feel hungry, stalked, frightened, terrorized, bullied or afraid with nowhere to turn.” pic.twitter.com/Z7F6JsSvGF
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) September 21, 2017