The Philippines on Tuesday reiterated its call for Myanmar to return to its “previously existing state of affairs” following a violent weekend confrontation between protesters and the military that resulted in the deaths of 18 people and injured 30 others.
“Our call is for the complete return to the previously existing state of affairs: with respect to the preeminent role of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi; alongside the Army her father created for the protection of the people he led to freedom and the country he gave them at the cost of his life. This is what is needed,” the Philippines said in a statement at the Informal Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministers Meeting on Regional and International Issues.
In the statement, the Philippines also urged Myanmar to take the “first step to immediately release former Nobel Peace prize winner and democracy icon Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and engage in subsequent dialogue among the parties involved in the pursuit of their country’s destiny.
Suu Kyi, along with other civilian leaders, were arrested in an early morning raid as a result of a military coup on Feb. 1.
“The rest of ASEAN must stand by Myanmar; ready to give what help it is asked by the people and government of Myanmar,” it said.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. who read the statement at the ASEAN meeting said: “I warned The Lady about that: never to trust those who shattered countries like Libya. But even so we equally recognize the unifying role of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in her country’s history and in its destiny.”
Locsin told his fellow ASEAN ministers that the Philippines has always stood by Myanmar’s side as it tried to fix its ethnic challenges as he criticized what he called the “legacies of reckless and opportunistic Western imperialism.
“We have stood by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in particular; and defended her against calumnies from hypocrites in the West. We have hit back hard at her pro-democracy and human rights critics— not a single one of whom has done anything at all for democracy and human rights; let alone as much as she has at great risk to her life and with great loss in her life,” he stated.
While the Philippines has expressed its concern about the recent developments in its ASEAN neighbor, it however took the position of recognizing the Army’s role in preserving Myanmar’s territorial integrity and national security.
“It recognizes that the Myanmar army that is subject of different sentiments within the country has a role to play in achieving the peace and unity in Myanmar,” DFA Strategic Communications Executive Director Ivy Banzon-Abalos told reporters.
The ASEAN informal meeting was attended by the 10 ASEAN foreign ministers, including Myanmar’s military-appointed Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin.