MANILA (UPDATED) - The Philippine government has called for the release of Myanmar's detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi and a "complete return to the previously existing state of affairs” in the country.
The Philippine statement was delivered by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. during the virtual informal meeting held by ASEAN foreign ministers on Myanmar following the coup d’etat that turned the country upside down.
Locsin cited the “unifying role of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in her country’s history and in its destiny” while recognizing the role of Myanmar’s Army’s “in preserving Myanmar’s territorial integrity and national security.”
"We have always stood by Myanmar’s side as it tried to fix its ethnic challenges; the worst ones clear 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. We worked hard to give Myanmar back the respect due a responsible member of the community of nations moving, in the face of great challenges, towards fuller democracy. This should not stop now," Locsin said.
"Indeed, more than ever we should help all the more. Our appeal is not from the outside but from inside what we claim is one family: a family first of peoples and not of governments; feeling the hurt in one of its members," he added.
The Department of Foreign Affairs explained the line referring to the role of Myanmar’s army as recognizing "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.”
“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,” Locsin said.
“And the first step should be for the immediate release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and subsequent dialogue among the parties involved in their country’s destiny. The rest of ASEAN must stand by Myanmar; ready to give what help it is asked by the people and government of Myanmar.”
Locsin reiterated that the appeal was made not from the outside but from inside what we claim is one family,” saying that it is “a family first of peoples and not of governments; feeling the hurt in one of its members.”
"In the Philippines, we have a saying: the hurt of the small finger is felt by the whole body. Myanmar is not a small finger but a big part of the two hands that together make up the family of ASEAN 10," he said.
The ASEAN foreign ministers called Tuesday for de-escalation of the post-coup political crisis in Myanmar and for dialogue among all parties concerned in search of a peaceful solution, while suggesting a bigger role for ASEAN.
All the 10 ASEAN foreign ministers attended the meeting including Myanmar's military-appointed Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin.
ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
On Monday, Suu Kyi, aged 75, appeared at a court hearing via video conferencing as supporters marched in several towns and cities in defiance of a crackdown after the bloodiest day since the Feb. 1 military coup.
Myanmar has been in chaos since the military seized power after alleging fraud in a November election won by the NLD in a landslide, with daily protests getting increasingly violent as police and troops try to stamp them out.
- report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News