THE Philippines will contribute USD100,000 to the ASEAN COVID-19 Response Fund (ACRF), Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. said.
This he announced during the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat held via video conference on January 21.
Locsin called on ASEAN to build back better and healthier in 2021.
Acting Undersecretary Elizabeth P. Buensuceso, the Philippines’ Leader to the ASEAN Senior Officials’ Meeting, earlier proposed to tap the ACRF for the procurement of vaccines and medical supplies, and even the training of health personnel and other frontliners.
“We must take the challenges of 2020 in stride and strive to build back better, healthier, and more prosperous societies through deeper engagements on vital issues uniting ASEAN,” the Secretary Locsin said.
“We must maintain the momentum of our engagements in 2020 into 2021, particularly in our efforts to respond to the challenges of COVID-19,” the country’s top diplomat said.
It was the first meeting of ASEAN Foreign Ministers for the year under the chairmanship of Brunei Darussalam.
Locsin also expressed support for Brunei as the new ASEAN Chair, and said its theme – We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper – “is a fitting anchor for our regional efforts in the service of our peoples, in strengthening ASEAN mechanisms and its preparedness to hurdle challenges.”
He recognized ASEAN external partners and said they all greatly contributed to ASEAN COVID-19 response and recovery.
Locsin added the Philippines is now on the third phase of its action plan against COVID-19, involving a strategy that combines response and recovery by a gradual opening of the economy with the least risk to public health.