PH joins call for stable food security and peace in the ASEAN region amid COVID-19 pandemic

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 10) – The Philippines has joined calls of other Southeast Asian countries on Friday for stable food security and peace in the region amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin Jr., along with other foreign ministers in the region, convened via teleconference yesterday for the 25th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Coordinating Council meeting.

The ASEAN foreign ministers adopted measures to mitigate the socio-economic impact of the pandemic, highlighted by the establishment of the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund.

Locsin emphasized the need for continued cooperation among the 10-member ASEAN nations in ensuring food security, particularly a stable rice supply, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Locsin also called for stable access to medicines, personal protective equipment, and other medical supplies needed to respond to the virus.

The Philippine foreign affairs chief stressed the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the region, especially in the West Philippine Sea, during the crisis.

Last March 22, China opened two new research stations in the hotly-contested Kagitingan and Zamora reefs in the West Philippine Sea.

RELATED: China puts up new research stations on PH-claimed reefs in West Philippine Sea

Several ASEAN nations including the Philippines have been embroiled in a territorial dispute with China for years now. China is claiming most of the West Philippine Sea as their territory.

“The Philippines stands united with other ASEAN Member States in the fight against COVID-19,” said Locsin in a statement.

As of the latest tally by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering, 10 countries in the Southeast Asian region have confirmed 16,989 COVID-19 cases with 640 deaths and 4,042 recoveries.

Malaysia has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and recoveries in the region. The Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker says the country has 4,346 confirmed cases and 1,830 recoveries of the disease.

Indonesia recorded the highest COVID-19 death toll in the region at 306.

The Philippines rank second in the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths in the region. The Department of Health announced today an additional 119 cases of the disease, along with 18 deaths and 15 recoveries.

The country now has a total of 4,196 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 221 deaths related to the disease. There have been 140 recoveries.