Philippines, Vietnam agree to boost cooperation on COVID-19 response

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Philippines, Vietnam agree to boost cooperation on COVID-19 response
President Rodrigo Duterte talks on the phone with Socialist Republic of Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Phuc at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang, Manila on May 26, 2020.
Malacañang photos

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines and Vietnam have agreed to boost their cooperation against the coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 and have stressed the importance of enough supply of food and medical equipment as the world grapples with the pandemic.

Food security, including a long-term supply of rice to the Philippines, and international efforts against the pandemic were discussed during a phone conversation between President Rodrigo Duterte and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Tuesday.

"President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc committed to stronger bilateral and regional cooperation against the COVID-19 pandemic, including the assurance of long term rice supply for the Philippines and the mobilization of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) mechanisms to ensure critical medical supplies and equipment," a statement issued by the Office of the Presidential Protocol and Presidential Assistant on Foreign Affairs read.

"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," it added.

During the conversation, Duterte stressed the need to implement key ASEAN initiatives to combat COVID-19, especially the ASEAN Response Fund and ASEAN Regional Reserve Medical Supplies. He also lauded Vietnam for its its effective response to COVID-19 and expressed hope that the two countries can share best practices.

The statement said Phuc had expressed appreciation for the Philippines' "strong" measures in fighting COVID-19 including preventing community transmission, implementing community quarantine measures and providing social protection.

The Vietnamese leader also assured Duterte that his country would "continue to supply rice to the Philippines on a long-term basis at competitive prices.”

Duterte thanked Vietnam for the assurance and noted that the partnership in ensuring strategic rice supply stability is one of the key aspects of the two countries' cooperation.  He also assured Phuc of the Philippines’ continued support for Vietnam’s Chairmanship of ASEAN.

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