MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has acknowledged the US government for its assistance to the Philippines in the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Duterte made the recognition during his speech at the 9th ASEAN-US Summit where he welcomed US President Joe Biden to his first ASEAN Summit.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought complicated challenges to all of us. We appreciate the US’ generous offer of vaccines for the region, including the Philippines. To succeed against the pandemic, we need to further strengthen bilateral, regional, and international cooperation to ensure universal access to COVID-19 vaccines and medicines,” Duterte said.
Duterte also sought US support in the formation of the ASEAN Public Health Emergency Cooperation System to be able to prepare and give prompt responses in public health emergencies.
Meanwhile, at the ASEAN-China Summit, the president urged for the protection and preservation of biodiversity and marine environment in the South China Sea.
He said there must be extensive cooperation in addressing marine debris and transboundary pollution.
“We call for holistic efforts to protect and preserve biodiversity and the marine environment. Vulnerable marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs and other living spaces of endangered and migratory wildlife species, should be prioritized,” Duterte said.
The chief executive also thanked the USA for its solid support of the 2016 Arbitral Award that was granted to the Philippines in its maritime disputes with China.
Duterte also called on the stakeholders to practice restraint to prevent any untoward incidents that will trigger further conflict.
The president also touched on the crisis in Myanmar and expressed concern about the situation of the people in the ill-fated country.
“We call on all parties to ensure the continued provision of [humanitarian] assistance to all — regardless of gender, age, and political color. The Philippines will do its part to help those who are caught [up] in situations beyond their control,” Duterte said.
He also expressed the country’s willingness to accept Myanmar refugees.
“Our doors are open to our Rohingya brothers and sisters and other peoples of Myanmar who seek refuge,” he said.
The president said that while ASEAN is focused on recovery efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic, its member states must also contribute to a solid effort in finding to solve the issues that are now being faced by Myanmar which is also an ASEAN member. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Rosalie Coz)