Representatives of member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), together with the Japanese delegation, convened during the 18th ASEAN - Japan Senior Transport Officials Meeting (STOM) Leaders' Conference held virtually yesterday, 15 September 2020.

The conference centered on cooperative efforts between ASEAN countries and Japan, advancing the ASEAN - Japan Transport Partnership’s (AJTP) existing activities focused on the transportation sector. Further, the ASEAN members discussed and shared their experiences and countermeasures to actively respond to the challenges and risks brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes the various initiatives and programs which provided support to transportation companies that have faced financial challenges by the pandemic.

The ASEAN members also highlighted the utilization of new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IOT), and robotics to hasten processes and limit human-to-human interactions to prevent the spread of the virus.

The Philippine Delegation was headed by Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) General Manager Jay Daniel Santiago, together with Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Commandant, Admiral George Ursabia Jr, Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) Administrator, Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad, and a representative from the DOTr International Cooperation Division.

As the country ushers in the new normal, DOTr remains relentless in its efforts to provide safe, viable and reliable transport options to pave the way to recovery.

DOTr presented its efforts in combatting COVID-19 based on its partial, gradual, and calculated approach in providing mobility to the riding public, to ensure health and safety while opening up the economy.

In addition, DOTr and its attached agencies highlighted their commitment to fast track the completion of key infrastructure projects under the Build Build Build Program to enable economic growth and to foster the favorable environment for jobs generation, domestic consumption and quick recuperation post-pandemic.

On the latter part of the meeting session, Japan presented the Progress Report of Projects under the AJTP Work Plan for 2019-2020, as well as the deliverables and new initiatives for endorsement to the ASEAN Transport Ministers.

Closing the virtual conference, the Japanese delegation stressed the importance of reinforcement of cooperative relations in this difficult situation. Members of the ASEAN committed to continue working together to enhance ASEAN connectivity moving towards a resilient and sustainable transport industry.