Duterte lauds Japan, Australia for Covid-19 aid in Asean

October 29, 2021

President Rodrigo Duterte has conveyed his gratitude to Japan and Australia for supporting the Philippines’ and Southeast Asia’s pandemic response, saying the region aims to strengthen its ties with the two nations.

Duterte on Wednesday said he was grateful for Tokyo’s continued support in the Covid-19 mitigation efforts and other projects of member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

“Japan is a staunch supporter of Asean in promoting peace and development. The pandemic has not weakened our dynamic engagement,” the President said in his speech during the 24th Asean-Japan virtual summit, which was attended by Prime Minister Kishida Fumio.

Meanwhile, he said solidarity defined Asean-Australia ties amid the health crisis, noting its vaccine donations and other programs for the bloc.

Duterte particularly acknowledged Australia’s Vaccine Access and Health Security Initiatives, the Australia for Asean’s Future Initiatives worth over US$90 million dollars, and its donation of oxygen concentrators to the Philippines.

“The Philippines appreciates Australia’s support for Asean’s Covid-19 response,” he said during the 1st Asean-Australia Summit, which was attended by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“Clearly, this collective and shared approach toward addressing the pandemic is the way to go,” the President added.

For post-pandemic recovery, Duterte said Asean and Japan should fortify its regional and global supply chains; build quality infrastructure; boost tourism; strengthen micro, small, and medium enterprises; enhance cooperation in climate action and biodiversity conservation; and pursue human capital development.

He also expressed hopes that Japan will support the Asean Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) for 2020-2022, which will be chaired by the Philippines.

The President likewise told Tokyo that the country is ready to be its co-chair with the third Asean Regional Forum Workshop on maritime domain awareness.

Meanwhile, Duterte said Asean and Australia should strengthen its economic ties through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and an upgraded Asean-Asuralia, New Zealand Free Trade Area.

He said deeper collaboration in cybersecurity between the region and Australia should also be a priority, noting its importance in a vibrant digital economy under the “new normal.”

The Asean held separate virtual meetings with Japan and Australia on Wednesday, details of which were shared by the Palace to reporters on Thursday night.