President Rodrigo Roa Duterte called for a cohesive ASEAN response to the COVID-19 pandemic during the 36th ASEAN Summit, held today, June 26, via video conferencing.
“Sa kanyang pitong minutong talumpati sinabi ni Presidente Duterte na talagang itong COVID-19 pandemic ay naging dahilan po ng disruptions worldwide na meron po talagang far-reaching consequences,” said Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque, Jr. during a media briefing in Malacañan.
Secretary Roque said that President Duterte called for greater economic cooperation and regional connectivity, especially with regard to sustainable supply chains, human resource development, and the rights of migrant workers. The President likewise underscored the need for fundamental and systematic changes in ASEAN so that the region can effectively mitigate the adverse consequences brought about by the pandemic and facilitate the region’s comprehensive recovery.
“Gaya po ng Presidente, COVID po talaga ang pinaka importanteng subject na diniscuss na mga heads of state at pagdating po dito ang naging panawagan ng marami sa kanila ay yung mas matindi pang economic integration dahil ito po ang susi para magkaroon ng mas mabilis na pagrecover dito sa COVID[-19],” said Secretary Roque.
Accordingly, the Palace official said that President Duterte welcomed the establishment of the ASEAN COVID-19 Response Fund, in which all ASEAN countries will participate and try to gather funds for the said purpose.
The Chief Executive likewise stressed the need to strengthen ASEAN’s capacity as a region to address future infectious disease outbreaks through research and capacity building on health technology development.
“Sinabi ni Presidente na itong COVID-19 ay nag-expose ng mga vulnerabilities sa ating mga sistema. Kasama nga sa mga vulnerabilities na sinabi ng Presidente ang mga limitasyon ng ating health care at ng ating social protection system,” said Secretary Roque.
However, aside from the pandemic’s negative impact, the Palace spokesman said that the President also mentioned the positive aspects that came out of COVID-19, most notably, the increased use of e-commerce, e-learning, video conferencing, and artificial intelligence. “Ngayon po ang panawagan ng ating Presidente, palawakin pa ang cross border e-commerce dahil narito daw po ang oportunidad para sa mamamayan natin,” Sec Roque said.
Secretray Roque added that other heads of state also discussed digitalization and the fact that businesses and economic growth can continue through digital means. “Ito ay isang bagay po na diskurso na ng at least tatlong heads of state, kung pupwede na buksan sa rehiyon natin ang business travel subject to quarantine and other health restrictions,” said Roque.
Secretary Roque further said that although COVID-19 is the biggest current problem of nations, there are other threats that can undermine ASEAN’s security and development. These are terrorism, transnational crimes, and natural calamities, which President Duterte said ASEAN nations should also plan for.
Meanwhile, Sec. Roque, who is also the concurrent Spokesperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), gave an update on the recent resolution approved by the IATF during the same media briefing. Sec Roque announced that the IATF declared support to the efforts of the Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Foreign Affairs on the repatriation of Overseas Filipino Workers who have died because of COVID-19.
The latest IATF resolution also added a new provision in the Omnibus Guidelines in the Implementation of Community Quarantine, which allows the visitation to open-air memorial parks and cemeteries. This new provision will allow up to 10 persons per group to visit cemeteries or memorial parks. The number of groups allowed at any given time will be left to the discretion of the management of the memorial parks and cemeteries, taking into consideration social distancing and minimum public health standards.
Lastly, the IATF resolution allows dine-in operations in hotels and other accommodation facilities, and in restaurants and cafes in sports clubhouses to up to 30 percent venue capacity and up until 9 PM. This is provided that such establishments will allow for social distancing protocols and remain compliant with other protocols prescribed by the relevant government agencies. ### OPS-PCOO