Philippines following Myanmar situation with deep concern

Pia Lee-Brago - The Philippine Star
Philippines following Myanmar situation with deep concern
Military officers wearing facemasks who serve as members of Myanmar's parliament leave after a session at the Assembly of the Union (Pyidaungsu Hluttaw) in Naypyidaw on March 10, 2020.
AFP / Ye Aung Thu

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is following with “deep concern” the situation in Myanmar, particularly the safety of its leader Aung San Suu Kyi who along with other officials was arrested in a military takeover, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday.

In a statement, the DFA also advised Filipinos in the Southeast Asian country to exercise due caution, monitor developments through reputable sources, and observe the guidance of local authorities.

Myanmar’s military took control of the country in a coup on Monday and declared a state of emergency. The military detained Suu Kyi and other senior government leaders in early morning raids and voided her party’s landslide victory in the November elections.

“Myanmar has made substantial and important strides toward democratization in recent years,” the DFA said. “The Philippines has supported these efforts.”

There are 1,273 Filipinos in Myanmar, according to the DFA. Many Filipinos in Myanmar work in the manufacturing industry as supervisors for textile and cigarette factories. A number of them also work for the United Nations and other international organizations.

Earlier, presidential spokesman Harry Roque ruled out speaking strongly against the military takeover in Myanmar, saying the development was an “internal matter.” For Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, President Duterte should take a strong stand against the coup.

“The ouster by the military of the elected government of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, one of democracy’s leading icons, is a global concern which the entire free world must condemn instantly and unequivocally,” he argued in a statement. He called the coup “death of democracy in Myanmar.”

While he agrees that government priority should be the protection of Filipinos in Myanmar, Lagman said the Philippines – as the oldest democracy in the region – couldn’t simply dismiss the coup d’etat as a purely domestic matter.

“The nonchalant attitude of the Duterte administration confirms and defends the militarization of the government and its implementation of repressive policies like the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, continuing red-tagging and the unilateral abrogation of the UP-DND accord,” he said, referring to the agreement between the University of the Philippines and the Department of National Defense requiring military coordination with school officials before entering campus . — Edu Punay



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