Manila, Aug 8 (IANS) Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte Saturday expressed optimism that the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) can overcome the COVID-19 pandemic through joint efforts."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 brief statement on the bloc's 53rd founding anniversary.Duterte added that the pandemic is an opportunity for the Southeast Asian region to be more resilient."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," he said."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."Though the challenges remain, Duterte said ASEAN's "commitment to community-building has never been stronger".Duterte noted that ASEAN is now the fifth largest economy in the world, driving growth and development in across the region.According to Duterte, ASEAN "is at the centre of mechanisms promoting peace and stability in our rapidly changing regional environment"."More importantly, ASEAN is moving closer to becoming one politically cohesive, economically integrated and socially responsible community," Duterte added.The Philippines is a founding member of ASEAN which also comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
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