The Philippines continues to rely greatly on its fellow Asian nations, notably China, in its ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was highlighted in a webinar co-hosted by the Philippine Association for Chinese Studies (PACS) and the Philippine Studies Center (PSC) of Jinan University this July.
The Philippines was one of the first countries to send medical aid to the Chinese people when the coronavirus first emerged in Wuhan, Ambassador Chito Santaromana said. Subsequently, he said, when the virus had spread to the Philippines, over 50 Philippine Air Force planes flew to Xiamen, Quanzhou, Changsha, Shenzhen, and Shanghai to pick up medical equipment and supplies for the Philippines.
Dr. Tan Cho Chiong, president of the Philippine Academy of Acupuncture, highlighted the contributions of the private sector and non-government organizations. Chinese Filipinos, he said, raised some P300 million through the Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, World News, and Kaisa, which were donated to the UP Philippine General Hospital, TOWNS, and other centers and organizations for further distribution to 181 hospitals and 584 barangays throughout the country.
Dr. Jed Rabena, research fellow of the Asia Pacific Pathways to Progress, cited contributions of face masks and medical supplies valued at P14 million, through the Chinese military and corporate sector. There are, however, some negative images, he said, due in part to misbehaving Chinese nationals in the Philippines, illegal drugs, and conflicting claims in the South China Sea in international media coverage amplified by local social media.
Prof. Elmer Soriano, chairman of the Political Science Department of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), presented the results of a ”Survey on Filipino Perceptions of COVID-19,” conducted with the Philippine Studies Center of Jinan University, in particular on the efforts of various countries in responding to the pandemic. Countries deemed to have performed well included Japan, Singapore, and China.
On the question of which countries and organizations are helping the Philippines against the pandemic, China was cited by 65.9 percent of the respondents, the World Health Organizations by 66.4 percent, and the United States by 34.6 percent.
The cooperation between the Philippines and China is one of the welcome rays of hope in these difficult times. The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, but there is confidence among our people that we will soon overcome it.