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PRRD renews call for universal vaccine access

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has renewed his call for universal access to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine during his address at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), telling the international community that leaving poor countries out would be “gross injustice”.

“If any country is excluded by reason of poverty or strategic unimportance, this gross injustice will haunt the world for a long time. It will completely discredit the values upon which the United Nations was founded,” he said in his pre-recorded message for the UNGA 31st Special Session in Response to the COVID-19.

“We cannot let this happen. No one is safe unless everyone is safe,” he added.

He asked that life-saving services and products be made accessible to the most vulnerable: “The most to the least”.

Meanwhile, he reaffirmed that the Philippines will do its part by contributing to the pooling of global resources and helping other countries without preconditions.

He underscored Manila’s strong support to the global medical and scientific initiatives of the World Health Organization such as the COVAX facility, an alliance to ensure access to the global COVID-19 vaccine supply.

“Together with our brothers in Asean and the Non-Aligned Movement, the Philippines supports a global health agenda with adequate resourcing and policy space for the World Health Organization,” he said.

Duterte acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the threats against peace and security and underscored Manila’s support to the Secretary General’s report for a global ceasefire.

“In many parts of the world, the pandemic has worsened threats to peace and security. The lawless weaponize this health crisis. They cripple the state’s ability to respond. They leave COVID-19 to wreak its worst on the population,” he said. “This is an inconvenient truth – but one that we must face head-on.”

While the pandemic is still far from over, Duterte urged the international community to draw up a “bounce back strategy”, one that would aim for a comprehensive and inclusive recovery. Philippine News Agency