Duterte gets phone call from Suga; thanks Japan for COVID assistance

President Duterte expressed his gratitude to the Japanese government for its assistance to the Philippines amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as he expressed the country's support for Japan during the health crisis.

President Duterte (Simeon Celi / Presidential Photo)

Malacañang made the statement after President Duterte had a phone conversation with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in Malacañang on Wednesday.

In a statement, Malacañang said President Duterte understood the earlier decision of Suga to cancel his visit to the Philippines due to the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Japan last month.

"Prime Minister Suga conveyed his regrets on the postponement of his official visit to the Philippines due to Japan’s domestic COVID-19 situation. President Duterte expressed full support of the decision and stressed that the Philippines stands in solidarity with the Japanese people in facing the pandemic," the Palace statement read.

President Duterte reportedly thanked Prime Minister Suga for Japan's assistance to the Philippines amid the crisis.

"The President thanked Japan for its generous COVID-19 assistance to the Philippines. This includes 20 billion yen approval out of the 50 billion yen Post-Disaster Standby Loan and 1 billion yen more for cold chain development assistance," Malacañang said.

"Prime Minister Suga, for his part, recognized and expressed support for the Philippine government’s efforts to address the pandemic," it continued.

On April 21, Suga called off a planned visit to both the Philippines and India due to the COVID-19 situation in their country. In a statement, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said the Philippines understood why the Japanese leader had to make the decision.

"Defeating the COVID-19 pandemic is high on both the Philippines and Japan’s agenda and remains a key point of cooperation," Roque said.

"The decision to postpone a planned Official Visit based on this ground, therefore, deserves support," he added.

Despite the canceled visit, Roque said the relationship between the Philippines and Japan will only continue to flourish.

"The strategic partnership and broad cooperation between the Philippines and Japan will continue to strengthen even as we jointly and individually work to address the COVID-19 pandemic," he said.

A report by the Japan Times said Suga's trip to the Philippines and India was intended to reaffirm Japan's cooperation with the two countries in achieving a free and open Indo-Pacific.

His visit to the Philippines was aimed at marking the 65th anniversary of the normalization of the two countries' diplomatic relations.