THE Philippines called for enhanced efforts to implement ASEAN’s key initiatives to COVID-19 response for regional recovery.
In the virtual 7th Meeting of the ASEAN Coordinating Council Working Group on Public Health Emergencies (ACCWG-PHE), Philippines’ ASEAN Senior Official Meetings’ Leader and acting Undersecretary Ma. Theresa P. Lazaro, stressed the urgency of purchasing vaccines through the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund (CARF).
She pointed out the importance of allocating more resources of the Fund for the procurement of vaccines, as well as the immediate operationalization of the ASEAN Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies for Public Health Emergencies and the ASEAN Centre on Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases.
Both bodies serve as regional resource hubs to strengthen ASEAN’s regional capabilities to prepare, prevent, detect and respond to public health emergencies and emerging diseases, and also complement other regional platforms related to public health and safety.
ASEAN Senior Officials also exchanged views on the operationalization of the ASEAN Travel Corridor Arrangement Framework, such as expanding the roles of the latter’s Ad Hoc Task Force, to enable a common approach to verify the authenticity of digital certificates in accordance with the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.
The Philippines recommended that the Ad Hoc Task Force establish regional mechanisms to identify or certify nationals of ASEAN member states who have received their doses of COVID-19 vaccines, to jumpstart efforts in re-opening selected areas in the region for international tourism.
Manila also underscored the importance of deepening public-private partnership (PPP) between ASEAN and the ASEAN Business Advisory Council. “PPPs have grown in importance over the years, and the pandemic has put them at the forefront in providing possible solutions to meet sustainability goals, aid key sectors such as MSMEs, and allow greater mobility to those partially or fully vaccinated to spur business activity,” remarked Philippine SOM Leader Lazaro.
The ACCWG-PHE’s reports and makes various recommendations to ASEAN’s collective response to the COVID-19 pandemic to the ASEAN Coordinating Council for subsequent approval of the Leaders at the 38th ASEAN Summit in October 2021.