Pres. Duterte urges “greater solidarity” among countries, equitable access to vaccines

In keynote address, Duterte says “we are only as strong as our weakest link as a country, as a region, and as one global community”

(File photo) President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga discuss matters during a phone call at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on May 19, 2021. ROBINSON NIÑAL/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO


(Eagle News) – President Rodrigo Duterte called for “greater solidarity” among countries to address the COVID-19 pandemic as he noted that the virus has escalated the “de-globalization” process.

In the keynote speech on the occasion of the Nikkei Future of Asia Conference, the 76-year old Philippine leader stressed said that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected all countries’ economies so deeply that no country was spared – rich or poor.

“Outside of war, never has one crisis transformed our countries so quickly and deeply. The virus spread with such extraordinary speed and ferocity. It left us reeling. No country – rich or poor – was spared. We can draw many lessons from this global crisis,” he said.

Duterte also called for “equitable access to vaccines” noting this was “our shared responsibility.”

“We take this commitment seriously and we expect the same from our partners. I thank Japan and other partners in the COVAX facility that has benefited many developing countries, including my own.”

The Philippine president, addressing the 26th international conference held through online streaming last week, said the theme of the conference “Shaping the post-COVID era: Asia’s role in the global recovery” was very fitting and timely as countries “work together towards full recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

-Lessons from the COVID global crisis-

He said countries “can draw many lessons from this global crisis.”

“First, we are only as strong as our weakest link as a country, as a region, and as one global community. This is why we need greater solidarity for collective, coordinated, and comprehensive responses. Inward-looking policies will lead us nowhere.
He cited the value of equitable access for COVID-19 vaccines as “no one is safe until everyone is safe.”

Duterte said the Philippines is supporting all avenues for increased production of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. “We also have consistently championed universal, fair, and equitable access to COVID19 vaccines.”

“Second, while collective international action is vital, this can only supplement national responses,” he said.
He told other Asian leaders attending the conference how the COVID pandemic had further exposed inequalities among countries.

With various economies hit by the pandemic and lockdowns and global travel affected, this further highlighted the importance of food security and agriculture in the country, as well as public health where health systems would be able to take care of the people amid the crisis.

He said that the Philippines is also working on reducing health inequality through enhanced social safety nets. “Universal health coverage is central to my administration’s development agenda. We are likewise strengthening our public health system,” he said.

“Third, the pandemic has impelled, if not accelerated, the de-globalization process. The lack of connectivity in many parts of Asia can reinforce fragmentation. This will result in lost opportunities for trade expansion among developing countries,” Duterte said.

He expressed support for a “free and rules-based multilateral trading system.”

“The key to recovery and shared prosperity remains the free [movement] of goods, capital, and services, as well as the harnessing of valuable human resources,” he said while observing the importance of addressing deficiencies in world trade.

Some of the Asian leaders who attended the 26th International Nikkei COnference on the Future of Asia. Screenshot of 26th International Nikkei conference on the Future of Asia held on May 20 to 21. (Courtesy 26th international conference on the future of Asia website)
Screenshot of 26th International Nikkei conference on the Future of Asia held on May 20 to 21. (Courtesy 26th international conference on the future of Asia website)

The 26th International Conference on the Future of Asia was attended by various political and economic leaders in Asia. The leaders of Asian countries were also there including Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Vietnam Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Malaysian Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic President Thongloun Sisoulith, former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad was Prime Minister of Malaysia, Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli, Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen, among others.

Philippine president Duterte was the keynote speaker in the conference which was held for two days –from May 20 to 21.

(Eagle New Service)