Philippines Urges Faster Implementation of COVID-19 Initiatives in the Region at ASEAN Joint Consultative Meeting 

ASEAN Joint Consultative Meeting 1

Philippine Senior Officials’ Meeting Leader and Foreign Affairs Acting Undersecretary Ma. Theresa P. Lazaro during  the Joint Consultative Meeting (JCM) held on 17 June 2021. (DFA-ASEAN photo)

PASAY CITY, 21 June 2021 – The Philippines pushed for the swift implementation of the Southeast Asian region’s efforts to address COVID-19 at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Joint Consultative Meeting (JCM) on 17 June 2021 via video conference. 

“We strongly encourage the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting for Health Development to prioritize the selection of the host country to immediately operationalize the ASEAN Centre on Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases. We must all be mindful of the urgency of the situation in addressing COVID-19 and future public health emergencies. Diseases are mutating and scientists have insufficient funds to conduct medical research,” emphasized the Philippines’ ASEAN Senior Official Meetings’ Leader and Acting Undersecretary Ma. Theresa P. Lazaro. 

The Centre aims to strengthen ASEAN’s regional capabilities to prepare for, detect, and respond to public health emergencies and emerging diseases and shall serve as a Centre of Excellence and a regional resource hub. Its establishment was announced at the 23rd ASEAN-Japan Summit in November 2020.

The Philippines also reiterated its proposal to use a portion of the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund for research and capacity building activities to prepare for future public health emergencies, in such vital activities as the effective mapping of zoonoses in Southeast Asia, and utilizing the Fund to procure vaccines and prioritize the vaccination of vulnerable groups in ASEAN.

The Meeting endorsed the Philippines’ proposal for a JCM retreat session to brainstorm on enhancing the role of the JCM to promote an integrative, inclusive, and collaborative cross-pillar approach in addressing regional concerns. The Meeting also discussed ASEAN’s 2021 Community-building priorities and matters involving cross-pillar and cross-sectoral coordination.

The JCM is composed of ASEAN Senior Officials’ Meeting, ASEAN Senior Economic Officials’ Meeting, Senior Officials' Committee for the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Council and the ASEAN Council for Permanent Representatives. The Philippine delegation headed by Acting Undersecretary Lazaro comprised Director-General of the ASEAN National Secretariat of the Philippines Junever Mahilum-West, Permanent Representative of the Philippines to ASEAN Noel Servigon, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Assistant Secretary Noel M. Macalalad, and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Supervising Trade Industry Development Specialist Ms. Denise Cheska C. Enriquez. END

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ASEAN officials discussed key initiatives on COVID-19 response. (DFA-ASEAN photo)