Duterte asks Indian companies to manufacture medicines in PH

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(File photo) President Rodrigo Duterte

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 25) — President Rodrigo Duterte is asking Indian pharmaceutical companies to manufacture medicines in the Philippines.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said Philippine officials discussed a possible a pharmaceutical cooperation with Indian counterparts during meetings with the South Asian country.

"They can make the Philippines as their toll manufacturing hub for medicines that they will supply to the Philippines or making it as a manufacturing hub to export also to their other export markets," he said in a media briefing from India on Thursday.

Duterte is in India for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-India Special Commemorative Summit and India's Republic Day celebration. Lopez is part of his delegation.

Lopez said "special emphasis" was given to strengthening trade on pharmaceuticals during meetings with India.

"It's highlighted that the medicines coming from India are not only affordable but also with high efficacy, very effective. They, in fact, are biggest exporters as well -- of medicines to the U.S. and the E.U.," he said.

He said the government wants these effective and affordable medicines to be accessible to many Filipinos.

Last year, Duterte also told Modi during the 31st ASEAN Summit in Manila that he wants the Philippines to have access to cheap Indian medicine.

READ: Duterte leaves for India  

Lopez said Duterte and Modi agreed to form "working group" on how the pharmaceutical cooperation can happen.

"That technical working group was given about two months to give a report on how we can really strengthen the partnership, the relationship between Philippines and India on pharmaceuticals," said Lopez. 

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque also said the Philippines also vowed to purchase military hardware from India.

"There was a commitment, in fact, for the Philippines to purchase Indian military hardware," said Roque.

"President Duterte just manifested in the same way that he has decided to purchase weapons from China and Russia that he will also consider purchasing Indian weapons," he added.

CNN Philippines' Amanda Lingao and Ina Andolong contributed to this story.