By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte told his Southeast Asian counterparts that there was a need for a legislation that will prepare each country in the region in case an event such as the COVID-19 pandemic happens again in the future.
Duterte made the statement during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Leaders’ Interface with Representatives of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) on Friday.
In a statement, the Office of the President (OP) said President Duterte and his fellow leaders had a productive exchange of views and interface with AIPA representatives.
The President, in particular, enumerated the areas that need immediate legislative action.
“President Duterte cited key areas that need urgent legislative action, such as the institutionalization of national preparedness and response mechanisms for pandemics and other hazards,” the OP wrote in its statement.
“These include the creation of a Medical Reserve Corps and Stockpile of Strategic and Critical Materials,” it furthered.
According to the OP, President Duterte also said that the Philippines needs to amend its Labor Code, strengthen its social protection system, and update its economic regulations in view of advances in the digital economy.
Meanwhile, the ASEAN leaders underscored the key role of ASEAN legislatures in COVID-19 crisis management and response.
President Duterte said that a pandemic of such massive scale and severity as COVID-19 requires close cooperation and coordination between the executive and the legislature.
“COVID-19 is likely to stay with us in the foreseeable future. As we transition to the new normal and move towards recovery, we will once again need the support of the legislative branch,” he said.
Duterte lauded the Congress for enacting the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act”, which enabled the government to implement timely emergency measures to mitigate the adverse impact of the crisis and save lives.
The OP said that President Duterte likewise sought the support of the AIPA in crafting an ASEAN comprehensive recovery plan.
According to Duterte, ASEAN, over the past five decades, has seen great progress and overcome many crises through solid cooperation.
“Our legislatures have definitely been a crucial partner in this process. Let us then continue to foster this much-needed cohesive and responsive partnership,” he said.
Founded in 1977, AIPA is a forum for inter-parliamentary friendship and cooperation among lawmakers from the 10 ASEAN member-states.