A united ASEAN can bounce back â Duterte
“We are confident that the ASEAN way of partnership and mutual aid will help us overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and move forward with our community-building endeavors,” President Duterte said in a statement yesterday.
Presidential Photo/Alfred Frias
A united ASEAN can bounce back – Duterte
Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - August 9, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — As the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) marks its 53rd year, President Duterte said he is confident the regional block would be more united in fighting and eventually overcoming the scourge of COVID-19.

“We are confident that the ASEAN way of partnership and mutual aid will help us overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and move forward with our community-building endeavors,” Duterte said in a statement yesterday.

The Philippines was one of the founders of ASEAN, together with Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. It was established in Bangkok in 1967.

“Though challenges remain, most notably the COVID-19 pandemic, ASEAN’s commitment to community-building has never been stronger,” he said.

“Bouncing back from the pandemic appears to be a daunting task. But if pursued with friends, the burden is shared and transformed into an opportunity to create a more resilient Southeast Asian region,” Duterte said.

The President said he is pushing for a “deeper sense of common purpose” between the Philippines and the rest of the ASEAN. “We will continue to work together as one ASEAN and strengthen partnerships with friends within and outside the region,” he said.

More than five decades since its creation, Duterte noted that ASEAN has reached an “unparalleled success” as a force for peace and prosperity in the region.

Duterte underscored the importance of the regional alliance, which now represents the fifth largest economy in the world.

“It is at the center of mechanisms promoting peace and stability in our rapidly changing regional environment. More importantly, ASEAN is moving closer to becoming one politically cohesive, economically integrated and social responsible community,” he said.

Presidential Communications Operations Office chief Martin Andanar said that amid the pandemic, ASEAN has remained committed to community building in accordance with “our forefathers’ collective vision of shared socio-economic development, mutual assistance and regional peace and stability.”

“We are moving closer to our vision of a politically, economically and socially-united community,” he said.

“Now more than ever, being united as an intergovernmental organization has never been more important,” he added.

With restrictions due to the public health crisis, an online celebration was held to commemorate the founding of the organization.

ASEAN secretary-general Dato Lim Jock Hoi, who led the flag-raising at the organization’s headquarters in Indonesia, said the group stays focused on undertaking important milestones in the region.

He noted the need for member-states to develop a robust, holistic and pragmatic post-pandemic recovery framework to mitigate socio-economic effects while continuing to advance regional economic integration.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi also stressed the need to continue to work together in fighting the pandemic.

“ASEAN must always cooperate to maintain our regional peace and stability, and not to be dragged into the storm of geopolitical tension or being forced to choose sides,” she added.

“Therefore, the region must stay ahead of the curve to maintain our centrality, maintain our relevance and be at the driving seat in turning rivalry into cooperation, distrust into strategic trust,” said Marsudi.

Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh emphasized that a strong and united ASEAN is indispensable for peace and prosperity within the region. Vietnam chairs the ASEAN this year.

As part of its anniversary celebration, the ASEAN Secretariat is hosting an online sale day (http://aseanonlinesaleday.com/) to connect 150 e-marketplace companies to regional consumers.

The event is part of the organization’s efforts to tap digital technologies to rebuild consumer confidence and contribute to a more robust recovery. – Janvic Mateo

ASEAN PRESIDENT DUTERTE
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