August 28, 2023

On this 53rd ASEAN anniversary, the ASEAN Members States, including the Philippines, face the extraordinary times brought about by the outbreak of COVID-19. While this pandemic has challenged us as a region, I am proud that the cooperation espoused by ASEAN has never been stronger.

Yet, there is still great urgency to address the continuing threat of COVID-19 in the region. We bear significant regional impact from this pandemic, which has gravely affected our populations, leading to the loss of many lives and many livelihoods. Through these challenges, I would like to express my great appreciation for the ASEAN in spearheading regional collaboration, engaging stakeholders of various sectors in the collective healing and recovery of our nations.

I would like to take this opportunity to raise awareness and to emphasize the importance of the ASEAN. The Philippines was never alone in our efforts to control this pandemic, as we engaged in mutual cooperation with ASEAN counterparts, a key component to effectively addressing this public concern.

As we commemorate our founding anniversary, let us be steadfast in intensifying efforts in safeguarding public health, continue to strengthen the regional cooperation mechanisms, and sustain the promotion of a holistic  ASEAN community approach to responding to public health emergencies.

Most of all, I commend and profusely thank all ASEAN front liners, health professionals and health care workers, researchers, scientists, and individuals who continue to respond to the call of service during these times. They have been our lifeline through these hard times and their efforts have sustained us over the past half-year.

Again, I congratulate the ASEAN, the ASEAN Member States, and the ASEAN Secretariat for the remarkable 53 years that has been. The organization has grown to become a cohesive and responsive regional entity in the global arena as it moves towards paving better life to the people of South East Asia.

And so, I am confident that together, we will endure; together, we shall overcome.

Thank you very much. Mabuhay!