August 28, 2023

To the peoples of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), my colleagues in the Senior Officials Meeting on Health Development (SOMHD), the ASEAN Health Ministers’ Meeting (AHMM), and the ASEAN Secretariat: Congratulations on our 53rd founding anniversary.

Today is a momentous occasion even in the midst of the challenges posed by the current global public health situation. However, we shall not forget the loss of lives and suffering due to COVID-19, to which we express deep condolences and sympathies.

I take this opportunity to commend the furtherance of timely information sharing on COVID-19 prevention and control measures through the various ASEAN Health Sector cooperation. I express our gratitude to our fellow ASEAN Member States for responding to the health needs of Filipino overseas workers and migrants within their jurisdictions, and look forward to opportunities for reciprocation.

I also recognize ALL Filipinos and ASEAN front liners who have sacrificed their personal lives to cater to the needs of the many. May you all continue the exemplary performance in serving our communities.

As a country proud for the resilience of its people, even in times of disasters and health emergencies, I hope we find ways to further our resiliency from the critical lessons that the COVID-19 pandemic brought us.

As we slowly adapt to the new realities, I look forward to continuing and enhancing our regional cooperation with our ASEAN neighbors, which is now, more important than ever.

With optimism, I congratulate the ASEAN for 53 years of unwavering support to the Filipino people, the Philippines, and the South East Asian Region.

Maraming salamat po at Mabuhay!