Pres Duterte urges ‘deeper solidarity’ in fight vs. Covid-19, terrorism

President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday called for “deeper solidarity” among nations to combat coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) as it continues to confront the threat of terrorism.

Duterte made this remark in a speech delivered during the 2020 Aqaba Process Virtual Meeting on Covid-19 Response hosted by Jordanian King Abdullah II, according to a statement from the Office of the President.

During the two-hour virtual meeting, Duterte called on “more openness, deeper solidarity, and stronger cooperation among nations” to facilitate economic recovery and effectively combat terrorism and violent extremism.

He emphasized that all nations, including the Philippines, are fighting the exact same “invisible menace”.

“Our urgent common response was to close down borders and impose limits to mobility and trade. The repercussions, as we are seeing now, are grim and far-reaching. We have economies in recession, institutions in crisis, and societies in state of uncertainty,” he said.

Duterte also pointed out that while the Philippines is navigating itself out of the pandemic, terrorists are taking advantage of the country’s increased vulnerability.

“Local terrorist groups, such as the Abu Sayyaf, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and the New People’s Army of the Communist Party of the Philippines, are exploiting the situation to serve their nefarious ends,” he said.

However, he said that the Philippines’ resolve to fight terrorism has gotten stronger.

“Now, more than ever, our resolve is stronger: We will not let up in our fight against terrorism. And we will not allow Covid-19 to bring our people to their knees,” he said.

According to Duterte, leaders should not pass the chance to “build a new order” that “has no room for the barbarity of terrorists and extremist forces” and “where progress and prosperity are enjoyed by all”.

He urged counterparts to “honor those who have fallen to the invisible enemy that is the pandemic and the scourge of terrorism”.

Duterte said the key to shared prosperity is the free movement of goods, capital, and services, complemented with appropriate social safety nets.

“This is why we in (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) are drawing up a comprehensive recovery plan anchored on strengthening economic cooperation and supply chain connectivity,” he said.

He vowed to intensify cooperation with Asean, the United Nations, and other international partners, including Jordan.

Meanwhile, he thanked King Abdullah II for the timely convening of the meeting which Aqaba partners see the opportunity to recommit to enhanced cooperation.

Duterte also vowed to continue to work on narrowing deep-seated inequalities as an integral part of its whole-of-nation strategy on countering terrorism and violent extremism.

The Aqaba Process meeting gathered leaders and heads of international organizations for an exchange of views on strengthening international cooperation in light of the increased vulnerability of many countries to radicalization and violent extremism resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic. (PNA)

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