President Rodrigo Duterte called on other countries to work together and find a way to help everyone respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his pre-recorded message at a special session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly this Friday morning (Philippine time), the president said that the pandemic exposed society and institutions’ weaknesses.
“Our immediate responses were necessary, yet have driven our societies apart. When everyone needs the same limited resources, the compulsion to resort to a zero-sum approach is amplified. Yet this pandemic demands the opposite response–enhanced cooperation,” Duterte said.
The president said the pandemic also showed the connection between countries and other ways to cross it, such as e-commerce, e-learning, video conferencing, and artificial intelligence.
“Inadvertently, this pandemic has opened greener and more resilient pathways to growth and development,” Duterte said.
“Mr. President, the time is now for greater collective courage – meaningful actions to see the end of the pandemic.”
The president reiterated the call for universal access or the nation’s right to benefit from vaccines and other technologies against COVID-19 equally.
Duterte calls on UN for ‘greater collective courage’ to fight pandemic
“If any country is excluded, because of poverty or strategic unimportance, this gross injustice will haunt the world for a long time. It will completely discredit the values upon which the United Nations were founded.
“We cannot let this happen. No one is safe unless everyone is safe.”
The president added that countries’ health systems still need to be strengthened, and the World Health Organization supported them.
“Our first priority is to strengthen the capacity of health systems. Without a cure and a vaccine, we can only delay the spread of the disease while we reopen our economies.”
“The end of this pandemic is still difficult to see, yet the broad outlines of the horizon are breaking through. It is never too early to think of the bouncing back strategy.”
He also assured that the Philippines would do its part to contribute to other countries’ needs without prior conditions.
Duterte also called on the global gathering to learn from the pandemic crisis to build a “new normal.”