PH pledges $100,000 for ASEAN’s COVID-19 response fund

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 22 2021 06:35 PM

MANILA — After the Philippines committed to provide funds to the COVAX facility, the country pledged another $100,000 to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) COVID-19 response fund, Foreign Affairs chief Teodoro Locsin Jr. said Friday. 

In a tweet, Locsin said the money for the ASEAN COVID-19 response would come from the Department of Foreign Affairs’ (DFA) travel funds. 

“In addition to my $100K pledge to the COVAX Facility, I pledged another $100K to the ASEAN COVID-19 response fund from DFA travel funds. I wish to express my gratitude to [Budget] Sec. [Wendel] Avisado for realigning DFA funds for this and the depleted Passport Revolving Fund,” he explained.

He added that he made the pledge during the virtual ASEAN Foreign Ministers Retreat on Thursday. 

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ASEAN foreign ministers, meanwhile, have already agreed to use the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund for “the procurement of vaccines, medical supplies and equipment for the people of ASEAN,” the event’s chairman said in a statement released following the foreign ministers’ retreat. 

The foreign ministers stressed the importance of “ensuring fair, equitable and affordable access to safe and quality vaccines and their procurement for all people in ASEAN.”

“In this regard, we agreed to [utilize] the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund in the procurement of vaccines, medical supplies and equipment for the people of ASEAN,” the foreign ministers said.

On Thursday, Locsin said he was “cutting off foreign travels” to save funds, following his statement that the “entire passport revolving fund is gone” and that he would “find money to replenish the fund.”

This development came after he revealed that the DFA owes the government printer APO Production Unit some P388 million for the printing of passports. 
 
But he said that the Department of Budget and Management has already permitted his agency to realign “to meet shortfalls” as he rejected any additional funds.