President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Friday, June 26, joined fellow heads of state via a video conference for the 36th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, pushing for regional security and stability in light of the threat of infectious diseases such as the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
In a statement released by Malacañang, it said that President Duterte had “productive discussions” on ASEAN community building in the face of COVID-19 as he once again faced his fellow leaders following a special summit convened last April to specifically tackle the adverse effects of the coronavirus crisis.
Noting the massive disruptions caused by the pandemic, the President called for “fundamental and systematic changes” in ASEAN to effectively mitigate the adverse consequences of the crisis and facilitate the region’s comprehensive recovery.
“ASEAN must recalibrate its plans taking into consideration lessons learned from the crisis,” it said.
During the summit, the President highlighted several points such as the need to accelerate the promotion of regional connectivity and sustainable supply chains, human resource development, and migrant workers’ rights.
He added that it is also imperative to strengthen the region’s capacity to address future infectious diseases outbreaks through, for instance, research and capacity-building on health technology development.
While the challenges posed by COVID-19 are considerable, the President also underscored that there are other threats that can undermine ASEAN’s security and development such as terrorism, transnational crimes, and natural calamities.
President Duterte likewise noted recent incidents in the South China Sea, urging all parties “to refrain from escalating tensions and abide by responsibilities under international law, notably the 1982 UNCLOS”.
In the midst of ongoing rivalry between the United States and China, the President called for ASEAN to remain united and defend “an open and rules-based international order that gives all countries – large or small – not just one voice, but an equal standing”.
Moving forward, the ASEAN Leaders instructed Ministers to craft a comprehensive recovery plan – one that will, hopefully, be innovative and ambitious, leading to a greener and sustainable future.
The Leaders adopted a total of twelve (12) outcome documents, including the ASEAN Leaders’ Vision Statement on “Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN”, ASEAN Declaration on Human Resource Development for the Changing World of Work, Work Plan of the ASEAN Plan of Action to Prevent and Counter the Rise of Radicalization and Violent Extremism 2019- 2025, and the Terms of Reference of the ASEAN Technical and Vocational Training Council, among others.
They also welcomed the ASEAN Economic Ministers’ issuance of the Hanoi Plan of Action on Strengthening ASEAN Economic Cooperation and Supply Chain Connectivity in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic as well as the establishment of the ASEAN Response Fund. These are key deliverables agreed upon at the Special ASEAN Summit on COVID- 19 held last April 14.
Joining the President during the Summit were key government officials, including Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro L. Locsin, Secretary of Trade and Industry Ramon M. Lopez, Secretary of Social Welfare and Development Rolando Joselito D. Bautista, Secretary of Health Francisco T. Duque III, Secretary Harry L. Roque, and Senator Christopher Lawrence T. Go.
The 36th ASEAN Summit, the first regular summit held via videoconference, was chaired by the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam. PND