President Rodrigo Duterte called on ASEAN to support Myanmar in resolving the crisis it faces.
Protests in Myanmar followed a series of military coups against the government, prompting the removal of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in February.
“I am deeply concerned that the ongoing situation in Myanmar may further exacerbate the effects of the pandemic,” Duterte said in his speech at the 39th ASEAN Summit on Tuesday.
“While focusing on comprehensive recovery efforts, we must stand with Myanmar in resolving issues peacefully and in a manner that prioritizes the welfare of its people,” he added.
Duterte had faced both Aung San Suu Kyi at several previous ASEAN Summits and Senior General Min Aung Hlaing when he visited Myanmar in 2017.
“The lack of progress in Myanmar has put ASEAN’s credibility into question. How we respond collectively will either affirm ASEAN’s relevance or reveal our impotence,” Duterte said.
The President further stressed that it is vital for countries to prove that ASEAN is a “talk shop” and that it can help solve the problems of its member states.
“The Philippines urges all parties in Myanmar to engage in constructive dialogue with ASEAN,” Duterte said.
He said the ASEAN special envoy should also visit Myanmar to talk to the two sides.
“We need to listen to all sides so we can effectively assist Myanmar in pursuing enduring peace and stability. As we have shown in the past, a consultative approach with Myanmar allows for inroads to be made in democratization,” Duterte explained.
Duterte calls on ASEAN to support Myanmar
He said the Philippines is ready to help the needs of the people of Myanmar.
“The Philippines will do its part to help those who are caught up in situations beyond their control. Our doors are open to our Rohingya brothers and sisters and other peoples of Myanmar who seek refuge,” the President said.
However, he said the President is concerned that other countries seem to ignore the Philippines’ assistance.
“Your Majesty and Excellencies, I am concerned that Myanmar’s rejection of our sincere offers of assistance may undermine the trust and confidence we have in each other, as well as that of key external partners and international organizations,” Duterte said.
“The respect accorded to us by the community of nations and the nod to ASEAN Centrality are given because we prove ourselves to be a responsible Community,” he added.