MANILA – Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Thursday urged the government to foster stronger relations with fellow Association of Southeast Asian Nation (Asean) members, not only to boost the country’s capability but also that of the region’s response to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) crisis.
“I urge the government to further promote stronger ties with other neighboring countries in the region, especially on the need to boost production of vital medical equipment and supplies to overcome the health crisis brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic,” Go said.
“Naniniwala ako na sa mga hakbang na ito, hindi lamang napapatatag ang ating ugnayan sa bansang Vietnam kundi nagtutulungan tayo sa ating mga kasamahan sa Asean region para mapalakas ang ating laban kontra Covid-19,” he said.
(I believe that through these steps, we not only strengthen our ties with Vietnam but also cooperating with our brothers in the Asean region to intensify our fight against Covid-19.)
The chair of the Senate Committee on Health made the call following President Rodrigo Duterte’s teleconference with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc Tuesday evening.
The call, which was initiated by Phúc, resulted in the Philippines getting assurance of an adequate supply of rice from Vietnam “on a long-term basis at competitive prices,” as well as assistance in the supply of medical equipment vital for the country’s fight against the pandemic.
Go, who was also present during the telephone conversation, said the two leaders also discussed the mobilization of Asean mechanisms to ensure critical medical supplies and equipment in the region, such as the Asean Response Fund and Asean Regional Reserve Medical Supplies.
This comes after the Special Asean Summit and Special Asean Plus Three Summits on Covid-19 last April held via video-conference, where President Duterte underscored the need to boost production of medical supplies and equipment across the Asean region to fight the current pandemic and future health crises.
“We appreciate this call and commitment from Vietnam. It truly sends a strong message that in the Asean region, we are one in fighting, not just the Covid-19 pandemic but also the need for all nations in the region to work together to come out stronger in terms of economic and social cooperation,” Go said.
“We also laud President Duterte’s commitment to continue nurturing strategic and mutually beneficial relationship with neighboring countries while maintaining an independent foreign policy,” he said. (PNA)