President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Thursday called on his fellow leaders to invest in pandemic preparedness and in ensuring the resilience of the global health system to prevent crippling lockdowns in the future.

In his opening remarks during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit, the president said health surveillance systems for emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases should be strengthened.

“We must continue to reinforce global health systems, not only against new and emerging variants of Covid, but also against other infectious diseases that may emerge,” he said.

“The global economy simply cannot afford another crippling series of lockdowns and travel bans that deflate — that deflate consumer confidence, dampen the recovery of tourism, and derail the stability of global markets,” he added.

The Philippine president also raised the need to solve the “serious global problem” of food security.

“The rise in commodity prices, coupled with supply chain disruptions and inflationary pressures, have obviously contributed to the rising prices of food. And the current conflict between two of the world’s largest agricultural producers has led to a scarcity of grains and fertilizers felt painfully across the globe,” he said.

“Food security must be a top priority for all governments and developing economies especially must have the policy flexibility needed to ensure an increased domestic food production and diversification and to improve the local agricultural supply and value chain,” he added.

The Philippines posted a 7.6-percent inflation rate for October 2022, the fastest in nearly 14 years due to the fast food and energy inflation. John Ezekiel J. Hirro