PH, India vow to unite vs COVID-19

June 11 ------ President Duterte and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi vowed to cooperate in the fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as partner countries with key roles to play in the Indo-Pacific region. In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon (June 10), Malacañang said the two leaders had an “engaging and productive” 25-minute conversation on Tuesday evening.

“The leaders reaffirmed their shared commitment to harness international and bilateral cooperation to effectively address the coronavirus pandemic,” Malacañang’s statement read. Duterte recognized India’s role as the leading global producer and source of affordable and accessible medicine and commended Prime Minister Modi for allowing India’s export of pharmaceutical products. “President Duterte said this decision demonstrated India’s ‘commitment to cooperation and to good neighborliness.’ President Duterte also noted India’s efforts to develop a vaccine for COVID-19,” the Palace wrote in its statement.

Modi, for his part, assured Duterte the supply of affordable medicines and COVID-19 pharmaceutical products to the Philippines, including hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug touted as a COVID-19 treatment. He likewise said that India is ready to extend all possible cooperation to the Philippines and that the Philippines will benefit from the vaccine that India is developing. Meanwhile, President Duterte lauded India’s efforts to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, noting the country’s 2.82 percent fatality rate which is among the lowest in the world. Prime Minister Modi, in return, congratulated Duterte for the Philippine government’s effective management of the crisis.

Both leaders conveyed appreciation for the mutual assistance extended in the repatriation of Filipino and Indian nationals affected by the lockdown measures during the pandemic. They also underscored the importance of sharing valuable lessons and best practices on addressing COVID-19.

Duterte and Modi also agreed to further strengthen cooperation in relation to the ASEAN-India Dialogue Partnership with the former emphasizing strengthening public health systems, food security as key areas of collaboration, and calling on India to support the ASEAN Response Fund for COVID-19. President Duterte last visited New Delhi in January 2018, when he invited India to make the Philippines its manufacturing hub for its medicine to address the needs of the Filipino people.