SFA Locsin Joins ASEAN Foreign Ministers in Discussing COVID-19 and Other Regional and Global Issues
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr., during the IAMM, APSC Council Meeting, and ACC Meeting held via video conference on 24 June 2020
PASAY CITY 01 July 2020 – Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. exchanged views with fellow ASEAN Foreign Ministers on COVID-19 on the South China Sea and other issues at the Informal ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (IAMM), the 21st ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC) Council Meeting, and the 26th ASEAN Coordinating Council (ACC) Meeting held via videoconference on 24 June 2020.
The Philippines’ chief diplomat emphasized that now is the time to develop an ASEAN recovery plan. “I will not say ‘post-pandemic recovery plan.’ That connotes waiting for a vaccine or a cure still in the indeterminate future. The recovery cannot wait. It must begin even as we contain and reverse the contagion,” Secretary Locsin said during the exchange of views on regional and international issues during the IAMM.
He saw the significance of a coordinated ASEAN response to the COVID-19 pandemic and cautioned against protectionism. “ASEAN is the way. Rather than revert to protectionism, the instinctive response of most, opening up even with our comparative equality, we might wring out whatever commerce remains in the region and the world.” A sustainable solution rests on “acting as though we share…a common fate either way”, he added.
Secretary Locsin also called for protection of vulnerable sectors such as migrants and stronger safeguards against cybercrimes and other threats online with the rapid shift to the digital economy necessitated by the “new normal.”
Secretary Locsin noted that recent developments in the South China Sea threaten the peace, stability and security of the region. He highlighted the need to lessen tensions between the great powers by inviting them to the table, and “away from what promises to turn our front yard into the next theater of war,” he said.
Moreover, the Secretary reiterated the Philippines’ commitment to the negotiations on the Code of Conduct. As Country Coordinator for ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations, the Secretary stressed that the Philippines remains steadfast in working closely with fellow ASEAN Member States and China to achieve an effective and substantive Code of Conduct.
The ASEAN Foreign Ministers also convened for the 26th ASEAN Coordinating Council Meeting (ACC) to discuss updates on ASEAN’s Community-building cooperation and to follow-up on the Leaders’ recommendations for a collective response to COVID-19 at the Special ASEAN Summit and the Special ASEAN Plus Three Summit on COVID-19 last April. Preparations for the upcoming 36th ASEAN Summit on 26 June 2020 were likewise discussed. END