MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday expressed confidence that Southeast Asian nations could "bounce back" if it worked together to address the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations marked its 53rd anniversary.
"We are confident that the ASEAN way of partnership and mutual aid will help us overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and move forward with our community-building endeavors," Duterte said in a statement.
In a statement, Duterte said Southeast Asia was moving closer to becoming "one politically cohesive, economically integrated and socially responsible community."
He added that cooperating over the pandemic could "create a more resilient Southeast Asian region."
"Bouncing back from the pandemic appears to be a daunting task. But if pursued with friends, the burden is shared and transformed into an opportunity to create a more resilient Southeast Asian Region, with a deeper sense of common purpose, we will continue to work together as one ASEAN and strengthen partnerships with friends within and outside the region," he said in a statement.
The Philippines is currently the ASEAN country with the most number of COVID-19 infections, with 122,754 cases as of Friday, even as it imposed one of the longest lockdowns in the world.
Malacañang refused to acknowledge the data, claiming the higher numbers stemmed from "more aggressive" testing in Manila.