President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said “openness, deeper solidarity and stronger cooperation among nations” were needed to battle against global threats such as the Covid-19 pandemic and terrorism.

“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,” Duterte said during the Aqaba Process virtual meeting attended by world leaders.

Duterte lamented how the health crisis has not “quarantined terrorists” and said the “grim and far-reaching” repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic were being exploited by terrorists.

These “monumental” challenges, however, can be solved through stronger international cooperation, he said.

“The path before us is clear: We will enhance cooperation with Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), the United Nations and other international partners like Jordan,” Duterte said.

The president also cited the need to revive global economies, but said international recovery plans should be anchored on strengthening economic cooperation and supply chain connectivity.

“Economic self-sufficiency may seem a logical response to the supply chain disruption we saw at the start of the pandemic…. But economic independence is not the answer. It is a mirage. It seems like a real solution, but it is in fact an impossible proposition,” he said.

“The key to shared prosperity is the free movement of goods, capital and services, complemented with appropriate social safety nets,” he added.

Duterte also lauded the Asean for drawing up a “comprehensive” recovery plan that addresses roadblocks on international trade.

“We will build on existing platforms to ensure unimpeded trade in the region. We will work towards more regulatory coherence to promote Asean as an investment and trade hub,” he said.

The Asean recovery plan also aims to take advantage of technology as physical movement remains impeded by the pandemic.

“We will expand the digital economy to boost growth and create employment. And we will harness technology to allow businesses – especially MSMEs – access to regional and global supply chains,” Duterte said.

Duterte also told fellow leaders that the pandemic had brought about the need for a “new order.”

“Let us seize this historic opportunity to build a new order: one that is more secure, just, and humane – where there is no room for the barbarity of terrorists and extremist forces. And one that is fair, equal, and sustainable – where progress and prosperity are enjoyed by all,” he added.

The Aqaba Process is an initiative of Jordanian King Abdulla II in 2015 to address international crises through cooperation among countries. John Ezekiel J. Hirro