President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Saturday rallied the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to work closely with India to secure cheaper medicines and vaccines.
In his intervention during the 19th ASEAN-India Summit in Cambodia, Mr. Marcos said that as the region emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is a matter of great urgency for governments to ensure better access to health services.
“ASEAN friends, let us not miss the opportunity of having the ‘pharmacy of the world’ as our close neighbor and dialogue partner.
The high cost of life-saving medicines and vaccines are barriers to a healthy population,” he said.
“Let us work closely with India in ensuring that our region has access to a sufficient volume of affordable, high-quality medicines and vaccines,” Mr. Marcos added.
In a separate statement during the 2nd ASEAN-Australia Summit, Mr. Marcos also called for stronger collaboration in combating transnational crimes.
Mr. Marcos expressed gratitude to Canberra for supporting the Bohol
Trafficking in Persons (TIP) work plan, which aims to implement the ASEAN Convention on TIP, Especially Women and Children.
“This partnership will strengthen our regional responses and keep us in step with the constantly evolving schemes of transnational criminals and traffickers,” he said.
The Philippine leader also suggested a deepening engagement with India, represented by Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar, on moving toward a blue economy, citing New Delhi’s continued support for the work of the ASEAN Center for Biodiversity
“We cannot move toward a blue economy if our oceans cannot support sustainable vibrant life,” the President said.
Mr. Marcos also took the opportunity to extend his condolences to the families of the victims of a pedestrian suspension bridge that collapsed in India’s western state of Gujarat.
“At the outset, allow me to add our ‘Tap…condolences on behalf of the Filipino people for the tragic loss of life and injury from the bridge collapse that you recently suffered. We pray for the injured to return rapidly to good health,” the President said.
At least 135 people died when a pedestrian suspension bridge gave way in the Indian town of Morbi on October 30.
According to local officials, most of those who had died were women, children, or elderly.