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Senator backs DFA chief’s Asean summit role on Myanmar crisis

Armed police remove makeshift blockages set up by protesters as they patrol streets in downtown Yangon, Myanmar on March 21. Protests against the coup continued in cities and town across the country, including in Mandalay and Yangon.

Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros backed Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. for participating in an emergency Asean Leaders Summit on Myanmar, formerly called Burma.     

In a news statement, Hontiveros confirmed her desire “to express my support for the Secretary of Foreign Affairs’ participation in the upcoming emergency Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit that is meant to address the political and humanitarian crisis in Myanmar.”      

The senator stressed that the Philippines, being a founding member of the Asean, should be “actively involved in ensuring we uphold just peace in the region,” adding that “mass atrocities should be nothing but a thing of the past.”       

“It is heartbreaking to see scenes and hear reports of the deaths in Myanmar,” Hontiveros said as she lamented, “the vicious bloodbath against peaceful protesters also goes against Asean’s pursuit of democratic forms of governance and the attendant respect for human rights.”      

The lawmaker asserted that the Asean as a whole must stand in solidarity with the peoples of Myanmar.       

“As the emergency meeting commences,” she said, “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.”       

At the same time, the Hontiveros reaffirmed the need for positive action by Asean member-countries. “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.”       

Lamenting that  “women and children suffer the most in conflicts,” she aired concerns that “if this bloodshed persists, citizens of Myanmar will continue to flee the country and seek refuge
in neighboring nations, citing the possibility that “the spread of Covid-19 due to this potential displacement also poses a great challenge.”       

She noted that over 570 people have been killed by the junta since the coup, and more than 3,000 have been put in jail. “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.”

“The world is witness to their courage. The Asean’s shared belief in democracy only means that Myanmar’s fight is our fight, too,” the senator said.

Image credits: AP Photo

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