Australia’s Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator the Hon Zed Seselja, visited Manila this week, to highlight Australia’s commitment to supporting the Philippines’ COVID-19 response and economic recovery.
The inclusion of the Philippines for the Minister’s first visit to the region in this role reflects the importance of the bilateral relationship.
“I am pleased that my first visit to the Philippines coincides with the celebration of 75 years of diplomatic relations,” said Minister Seselja.
“My visit reaffirms our deep and enduring relationship with the Philippines, based on mateship and bayanihan. This is a partnership that is responding to the challenges facing the Indo-Pacific, including the pandemic.”
During his visit, Minister Seselja met with senior representatives of the Philippines Government, including Secretaries Francisco Duque III, Carlito Galvez and Vince Dizon who are leading the Philippines COVID-19 response.
They discussed Australia’s comprehensive assistance to bolster the country’s vaccine procurement and delivery capability, particularly to reach the poorest and most vulnerable regions in line with the Philippines’ COVID-19 action and vaccination plan.
Minister Seselja had the opportunity to discuss the importance of the Australia-Philippines relationship with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, and reaffirm Australia’s commitment to partnering with the Philippines on development programs and recovery from the economic impacts of COVID-19.
Minister Seselja also had to opportunity to meet with representatives of a number of UN agencies and non-government organisations who are key partners in delivering Australia’s development investment in the Philippines.
Australia responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with our “Partnerships for Recovery” program, redirecting our AUD 80 million (PHP 2.8 billion) assistance to health security, stability, and economic recovery.
Under its regional Vaccine Access and Health Security Initiative, Australia is also providing an additional AUD35.9 million (PHP1.26 billion) over two years of direct support to the Philippines to procure and deliver vaccines.
This initiative includes AUD 7.52 million (PHP 263 million) in vaccine delivery support to the Department of Health and Department of Information and Communications Technology, delivered by UNICEF and the World Health Organization. Australia’s delivery support will bolster the country’s vaccine delivery capability, particularly in the poorest and most vulnerable regions.
Also under the Vaccine Access and Health Security Initiative, Australia is providing AUD13.72 million (PHP 480.2 million) through Australia’s UNICEF procurement agreement to buy COVID-19 vaccines for the Philippines. This will make an important contribution to meeting the country’s vaccine needs in 2021. The vaccine procurement will be accompanied by end-to-end distribution support to help roll-out Australian-funded vaccines.