PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday emphasized the need for a “people-centered” approach in mitigating the impact of the prevailing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
In his speech during the plenary session of the 37th Asean Summit video conference, Duterte reminded fellow heads of states that achieving a delicate balance between saving lives while keeping the economy afloat should be each government’s priority.
“Our immediate priority is health security. We have to strengthen our health systems by ensuring the unimpeded supply of medical supplies and technologies, and by enhancing early warning systems for health emergencies,” he said.
Duterte said the massive displacement of workers, including migrant workers, has compelled the Philippine government to upskill and reskill the labor force and equip people for a rapidly evolving labor market under the new normal.
“In mitigating the impact of the pandemic, our actions must be people-centered,” he said. “As we recover, no sector must be left behind. Our efforts should be targeted and inclusive.”
He said Asean regions must address the disproportionate effects of COVID-19 on women, migrant workers, and other vulnerable sectors.
“We have to adopt gender-responsive measures and strengthen social protection systems,” he added.
To build back “better” and “healthier” societies, Duterte called for the immediate implementation of the Asean Comprehensive Recovery Framework, the COVID-19 Asean Response Fund, the Asean Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies, and the Asean Centre for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases.
He also reiterated his call to ensure that all nations have equal access to safe COVID-19 vaccines.
“We must work together to ensure that all nations – rich or poor – will have access to safe vaccines. No one is safe until all of us are safe,” he said.
The 37th Asean Summit and Related Summits, chaired by Vietnam, will focus on the theme “Cohesive and Responsive Asean”.
The summit is expected to adopt more than 10 outcome documents on Asean cooperation on COVID-19, enhancing preparedness for public health emergencies, and updates on Asean community building efforts, among others. Philippine News Agency