MANILA – President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc committed to stronger bilateral and regional cooperation against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, including the assurance of long-term rice supply for the Philippines and the mobilization of Association of Southeast Asian Nation (Asean) mechanisms to ensure critical medical supplies and equipment.
In a telephone conversation requested by the Vietnam Prime Minister on Tuesday, both leaders underscored the importance of maintaining adequate supply of staple food and critical medical equipment and supplies to successfully combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
Duterte thanked Phuc for guaranteeing the long-term supply of rice to the Philippines, stressing that Viet Nam, as the country’s top source of rice imports, is a vital partner in food security.
Earlier in the conversation, Phuc told Duterte: “We assure you that Vietnam will continue to supply rice to the Philippines on a long-term basis at competitive prices.”
Duterte said partnership in ensuring strategic rice supply stability is one of the key aspects of the Philippines-Vietnam cooperation and “the Philippines thanks Vietnam for its kind support in assuring supply of rice.”
The Filipino leader also stressed to Phuc the need to implement key Asean initiatives to combat Covid-19, especially the Asean Response Fund and Asean Regional Reserve Medical Supplies.
During the Special Asean Summit and Special Asean Plus Three Summits on Covid-19 last April held via videoconference, Duterte stressed the vital need to boost production of vital medical equipment and supplies as well as to ensure sufficient rice supply to effectively overcome the challenge of Covid-19 pandemic.
Duterte praised Vietnam for its effective response to Covid-19, noting that the Philippines and Vietnam can share best practices.
Phuc, on the other hand, lauded the Philippine government’s comprehensive approach against Covid-19.
“We appreciate the strong measures of the Philippines in fighting Covid-19, including preventing community transmission, implementing community quarantine measures and providing social protection to the Filipino people,” he added.
Noting the importance of regional cooperation to address Covid-19 and other emerging diseases, Duterte assured Phuc of the Philippines’ continued support for Vietnam’s Chairmanship of Asean. (OPAFA-PCOO)