President Duterte was finally able to express his thanks–albeit virtually–to United States (US) President Joe Biden for America’s generosity to the Philippines as far as coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines donations are concerned.
This took place Tuesday night, Oct. 26 during a high-level discussion at the virtual 9th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-United States Summit.
“Your Majesty, Excellencies, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought complicated challenges to all of us. We appreciate the United States’ generous offer of vaccines for the region, including the Philippines,” Duterte said in his intervention.
It was Biden’s first time to attend the ASEAN Summit, the 38th and 39th iteration of which are being simultaneously conducted by host country Brunei.
A statement from Malacañang Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 27 said that President Duterte “welcomed President Biden to his first ASEAN-US Summit, noting the longstanding relations between ASEAN and the US”.
President Duterte then thanked the US for providing vaccines to the ASEAN, of which the Philippines is a founding member.
Duterte highlighted that in order to succeed against the COVID-19 pandemic, “We need to further strengthen bilateral, regional and international cooperation to ensure universal access to COVID-19 vaccines and medicines.”
The President underscored the need for sustained political dialogue, economic engagement and socio-cultural ties to further strengthen the ASEAN-US Strategic Partnership.
The US is one of the dialogue partners of ASEAN.
Earlier this month, Duterte–ovewhelmed by the display of goodwill and generosity by the US in terms of its continuous donation of life-saving Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to the Philippines–said he wants to go to the US to personally thank its government and its people.
Before this, Duterte had been critical of the US, with the perceived historical injustices caused by Americans to Filipinos in the Philippines’ colonial past being one of the reasons.