Duterte thanks Biden for COVID-19 vaccine donations during ASEAN meet

US President Joe Biden & PH President Rodrigo Duterte

PHILIPPINE President Rodrigo Duterte has personally thanked United States President Joe Biden for America’s COVID-19 vaccine donations.

The chief executive was able to express his gratitude during a high-level discussion at the virtual 9th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-U.S. Summit held Tuesday, October 26.

“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.

This was Biden’s first attendance at the ASEAN Summit, with the 38th and 39th iterations being hosted simultaneously by Brunei.

“President Duterte welcomed President Biden to his first ASEAN-U.S. Summit, noting the longstanding relations between ASEAN and the U.S.,” a statement from the Office of the President read.

To succeed against the pandemic, Duterte stressed the need to “further strengthen bilateral, regional and international cooperation to ensure universal access to COVID-19 vaccines and medicines.”

He likewise underscored the need for sustained political dialogue, economic engagement and socio-cultural ties to further strengthen the ASEAN-U.S. Strategic Partnership.

Last month, Duterte floated the idea of visiting the U.S. to thank its government for donating vaccines against COVID-19.

He made the statement after vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III told him that the U.S. donated five million more vaccine doses.

“Kasasabi lang ni Secretary Galvez at Secretary Duque na ang America nagbigay ng bago, five million (Secretary Galvez and Secretary Duque just informed me that America gave five million more doses),” said Duterte in his public address.

“Ang bait ng Amerika. Baka pupunta ako doon (America is kind. I might go there) just to thank the American government and the people,” he added. n

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