Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros on Thursday expressed support for the Philippines’ participation in the upcoming emergency Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit to address the political and humanitarian crisis in Myanmar.
Hontiveros pointed out that the country has a responsibility to help fellow Asian neighbors in fighting violence, standing up for human rights and upholding democracy.
“I would like to express my support for the Secretary of Foreign Affairs’ participation in the upcoming emergency Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit that is meant to address the political and humanitarian crisis in Myanmar,” Hontiveros said in a statement April 8.
As a founding member of the ASEAN, the senator said the Philippines should be at the forefront in ensuring it upholds peace in the region.
“Mass atrocities should be nothing but a thing of the past. It’s heartbreaking to see scenes and hear reports of the deaths in Myanmar,” she said.
“The vicious bloodbath against peaceful protesters also goes against ASEAN’s pursuit of democratic forms of governance and the attendant respect for human rights,” she added.
Hontiveros said the ASEAN must stand in solidarity with the people of Myanmar.
“As the emergency meeting commences, there must be a robust action that could lead to a more free, more just, and more humane Myanmar. The doctrine of Responsibility to Protect commands all of us,” she said.
“Not only do we have the responsibility to help our neighbor, it is simply in the best interest of the Philippines and the entire ASEAN that Myanmar’s junta stops unleashing violence against the people,” Hontiveros added.
The senator warned that if the bloodshed in Myanmar persists, its citizens will continue to flee the country and seek refuge in neighboring nations.
She said this could potentially increase the risk of the spread of the COVID-19 disease.
“The spread of COVID-19 due to this potential displacement also poses a great challenge,” she pointed out.
Myanmar’s military junta has killed over 570 people since the takeover started in February, and more than 3,000 have been put in jail. The junta has also detained Myanmar’s civil leader Aung Saan Suu Kyi.
The Philippines, through Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr., has called for Suu Kyi’s release and expressed “deep concern” over recent developments in Myanmar and urged the ASEAN community to be ready to give help to its people and government.
“Despite these brutal attacks of the military, citizens of Myanmar have continued to resist. They have been risking their lives to preserve and defend the democracy that they have worked so hard to achieve,” Hontiveros noted.
“The world is witness to their courage. The ASEAN’s shared belief in democracy only means that Myanmar’s fight is our fight, too,” she reiterated.