(PNA file photo of President Rodrigo Duterte)
MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday underscored the urgent need to address extreme poverty worsened by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) through collective efforts to accelerate the region’s socio-economic recovery.
“We must redouble our collective efforts to address extreme poverty. We must accelerate our nation’s and the region’s socio-economic recovery,” Duterte said in his intervention speech at the 2nd Asean-Australia Biennial Summit.
The chief executive said both partners must find ways to reinvigorate trade and economic ties.
He then cited the Asean-Australian, New Zealand Free Trade Agreement, and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, which could allow “more buoyant bounce back to our economies”.
While he acknowledged that the pandemic has changed the way countries do business, President Duterte noted that science, innovation, and technology could open pathways for economies to recover, thus, the need to boost cooperation in such areas.
He said the Philippines also recognizes the role of women in post-pandemic recovery efforts.
“We strongly support gender-sensitive initiatives that recognize the role of women in post-pandemic recovery efforts. The economic and social imperatives for these are clear: Empowered women support economic growth and resilience,” he said.
The president then took the opportunity to extend his gratitude to Canberra for supporting the maternal and neonatal health services in the Philippines, which has benefited the women of Masbate.
Meanwhile, he asked his counterparts to prepare the region for future pandemics by building the capacity of each nation’s health system through the Asean-Australia Health Security Partnership.
To boost the region’s recovery, Duterte said peace, security, and stability must also prevail to allow quick and sustainable recovery to take place.
“We must not let up in our collective efforts to combat terrorism and transnational crimes. We must continue working together to deter terrorist fighters. We must address the root causes of violent extremism and radicalization,” he said as he hailed Australia’s technical assistance in the crafting of the Philippines’ Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
Among others, he called for stronger cooperation in law enforcement, immigration, and customs matters.
“We continue to fight against these deplorable threats to our societies: Illicit drugs, online child exploitation and abuse, human trafficking, and cybercrimes. As Asean Voluntary Lead Shepherd for trafficking in persons, the Philippines calls for a greater Asean-Australia collaboration on the capacity-building in combatting human trafficking in the region,” he said. (PNA)