Duterte: ASEAN must stand on its own in recovery

Helen Flores - The Philippine Star
Duterte: ASEAN must stand on its own in recovery
President Rodrigo Duterte is seen speaking in this photo during a meeting with the coronavirus task force on December 26, 2020.
Presidential photo / Alfred Frias

MANILA, Philippines — Southeast Asian nations must be able to stand on their own in recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic even with help from external partners, President Duterte said on Tuesday.

During the opening ceremony of the 38th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, Duterte said ASEAN’s “road to comprehensive and economic recovery will be long and difficult.”

“It has been almost two years since the first COVID-19 case was recorded. But our region is still reeling from its impact,” Duterte said.

“While we welcome and appreciate the support of our external partners, we as ASEAN community must be able to stand on our own,” he said.

He urged the ASEAN Secretariat to expedite vaccine procurement through the COVID-19 Response Fund and stressed the importance of having regional vaccine research and production facilities to be ready for future public health emergencies.

“We must ensure the phased and comprehensive implementation of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework,” he said.

Moreover, the President cited the need to establish the ASEAN Center on Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases as it has been almost a year since the ASEAN leaders conceptualized the project.

The Chief Executive also pushed for the operationalization of the ASEAN Travel Corridor Arrangement Framework to help revitalize the ASEAN countries’ economies soonest, adding that an open multilateral trading system is vital to economic recovery.

Duterte vowed the Philippines will do its share in upholding multilateralism by ratifying the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) within the year.

The President likewise said ASEAN must address the needs of vulnerable groups during this time of pandemic, particularly women, children, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and migrant workers.

Daily COVID cases

If current trends hold, the number of new COVID-19 cases may drop to less than 2,000 a day by the end of November, according to a member of OCTA Research.

OCTA fellow Guido David yesterday said the average number of new cases decreased to 4,848 per day from Oct. 20 to 26, down from 6,909 daily new cases in the preceding week.

David said the last time the seven-day average was this low was from March 12 to 18, before the first surge experienced earlier this year.

He noted that the reproduction number, which indicates the number of people infecting others, is at 0.52.

OCTA fellows earlier said the country was expected to have a better Christmas, citing improving indicators since the peak of the Delta-driven surge last month.

However. they warned the public not to be complacent, saying cases might rise again if people fail to follow minimum health protocols.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) reported that daily COVID cases nationwide dipped further yesterday to only 3,218.

The latest figure is the lowest recorded daily new cases since May 23. On Oct. 20, the DOH also recorded a low of 3,656 cases.

The department said the new cases brought to 2,768,849 the total number of confirmed COVID cases nationwide.

Active cases also went down to 50,152 while those who recovered rose to 2,676,349, including 6,660 latest recoveries.

COVID-related fatalities went up to 42,348, with the additional 271 who succumbed to the virus. – Janvic Mateo, Mayen Jaymalin

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