Duterte urges ASEAN leaders to recalibrate COVID-19 response plan, consider lessons learned

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President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday has urged  leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to recalibrate its COVID-19 response plan, taking into consideration the lessons learned from battling the pandemic.

Duterte told leaders of the 10-nation bloc via videoconference to accelerate the promotion of regional connectivity and sustainable supply chains, human resource development ,and migrant workers’ rights.

Duterte also urged the region to strengthen its capacity to address future infectious diseases outbreaks through research and capacity-building on health technology development.

The Philippine President also welcomed the establishment of the ASEAN Response Fund for COVID-19.

The President added that terrorism, transnational crimes, and natural calamities could undermine the security and development of ASEAN, one of the world’s fastest-growing and most dynamic regions before the pandemic hit early this year.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the ASEAN leaders had a consensus on pushing for vaccine development.

Roque said the leaders agreed that all countries should be given access to the vaccines once they become available.

Roque also said there were proposals to open ASEAN for business travelers subject to health protocols.

Duterte was joined in the meeting by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rolando Bautista, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, and Roque.

Chaired by Vietnam, the 36th ASEAN Summit was the first regular meeting of the regional bloc that was held via videoconference in light of the constraints posed by the pandemic./Stacy Ang

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