ASEAN leaders push for cessation of Myanmar coup crisis

Robie de Guzman   •   April 26, 2021   •   283

The leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have reached a five-point consensus on the Myanmar coup crisis during their meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia over the weekend.

In a joint statement, ASEAN leaders demanded, “immediate cessation of violence in Myanmar and (that) all parties shall exercise utmost restraint.”

“Constructive dialogue among all parties shall commence to seek a peaceful solution in the interests of the people,” the statement read.

A special envoy of the ASEAN chair shall “facilitate mediation of the dialogue process, with the assistance of the Secretary-General of ASEAN,” in Myanmar, the Southeast Asian bloc added.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah from Brunei is the current chair of the regional bloc.

“The special envoy and delegation shall visit Myanmar to meet with all parties concerned,” it said.

“ASEAN shall provide humanitarian assistance through the AHA Center,” it added.

More than 700 people have been killed since the military coup in Myanmar began on February 1.

In a separate statement, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the five-point consensus reached by the ASEAN leaders seek to improve the situation in Myanmar.

Locsin stressed that Brunei’s role as ASEAN chairperson “puts it in a strong position to lead ASEAN as it offers assistance to Myanmar in ending violence, restoring peace, and facilitating its return to political normalcy.”

The regional bloc also reiterated calls for the immediate release of political prisoners in Myanmar, as well as the importance of Myanmar’s continued efforts to address the situation in Rakhine State, including the repatriation of Rohingya Muslim minority group.

Some one million Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh, and the ASEAN leaders said their repatriation should be done in a safe and dignified manner in accordance with its bilateral agreements with Bangladesh.

In response to the ASEAN leaders’ call, Myanmar’s newly former National Unity Government welcomed the five-point consensus on the coup crisis, and stressed that they are waiting for a firm action by ASEAN to de-escalate the conflict.

“We eagerly await the engagement by the ASEAN Secretary General as mandated by this meeting. We look forward to a firm action by ASEAN to follow up it decisions and restore our democracy for our people and for the region,” it said.

Myanmar’s Chairman of the State Administration Council, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, also said that his country is focused on restoring peace and stability to improve the current situation, and that they would consider ASEAN’s positive and sound proposals, taking into account their domestic situation.

The ASEAN leaders’ meeting held on April 24 was presided by Bolkiah, and attended by Hlaing, ASEAN Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock Hoi, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, and Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai.

President Rodrigo Duterte skipped the summit but he designated Locsin as his Special Envoy to the meeting. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte calls for self-restraint amid issues in West Philippine Sea

Maris Federez   •   November 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has called on stakeholders in the West Philippine Sea “to exercise utmost self-restraint, avoid the escalation of tensions and work towards the peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law,” referring to the issues on the disputed waters as  “a strategic challenge that cannot be solved by force.”

A statement released by Malacañang said the President joined the discussion at the ASEAN-China Special Summit with his counterparts in the region to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of Dialogue Relations via video conference on Monday, November 22.

“We abhor the recent event in the Ayungin Shoal and view with grave concern other similar developments. This does not speak well of the relations between our nations and our partnership,” Duterte said.

“UNCLOS and the 2016 Arbitral Award provide legal clarity …pointing us to a just and fair solution to our disputes. We must fully utilize these legal tools to ensure that the South China Sea remains a sea of peace, stability, and prosperity,” he added.

The President also asked China to remain committed to the conclusion of an effective and substantive Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

“There is simply no other way out of this colossal problem but the rule of law,” he said.

During the summit, Duterte underscored the depth and breadth of the 30-year partnership between ASEAN and China who, he stressed, deserves its status as the region’s “Comprehensive Strategic Partner”.

The president also pointed out China’s timely assistance to ASEAN’s COVID-19 pandemic response efforts, and the first country to provide life-saving vaccines and medical supplies to the ASEAN member nations.

Duterte also expressed his views on the region’s recovery efforts against the pandemic.

“Enhanced multilateralism and connectivity will be the drivers of inclusive and comprehensive recovery,” the President said as he welcomed China’s ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

Malacañang said that the President also touched on the recently concluded 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties, reiterating the Philippines’ call for urgent climate action anchored on the principles of justice and fairness.

He also pushed for the protection and preservation of biodiversity and the marine environment through sustained cooperation by supporting the work of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity hosted by the Philippines, among others.

Duterte calls on ASEAN countries to stand with Myanmar amid coup crisis

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte has called on member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to stand with Myanmar amid its coup crisis.

During the 39th ASEAN Summit, Duterte urged all parties in Myanmar to heed the ASEAN’s plea for peace.

“The Philippines urges all parties in Myanmar to engage in constructive dialogue with ASEAN. We are, after all, an ASEAN family. And if we cannot trust each other and work together, then who can Myanmar trust and work with?” he said.

He also urged ASEAN’s special envoy to visit Myanmar soon and meet all the parties involved.

Duterte expressed concern about Myanmar’s rejection of ASEAN’s sincere offers of assistance, stating that it may undermine the mutual trust and confidence that ASEAN-member states share.

Meanwhile, the president said the Philippines will commit to help individuals 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,” he said. AAC

Duterte renews call for regional unity to attain peace, stability in South China

Robie de Guzman   •   October 27, 2021

President Rodrigo Duterte has reiterated his call for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to remain united in pursuing peace, stability, and prosperity in the South China Sea, Malacañang said Wednesday.

In a press statement, the Palace said that Duterte made the remarks during the 38th and 39th ASEAN Summits on Tuesday.

Duterte said the regional bloc should pursue initiatives to resolve the dispute in the contested waters in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 2016 Arbitral Award that favored the Philippines.

“We have come a long way in keeping the peace and promoting prosperity in our region. We must not allow those with diverging interests to make our efforts fail,” he said.

Duterte, in his intervention at the 24th ASEAN-China Summit, urged countries to translate their commitments into action regarding the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in the midst of the evolving geopolitical situation in Asia.

“Talks should not remain empty rhetoric. They should be translated into action to fortify the trust and confidence we have cultivated through the years. Acta non verba. Deeds, not words,” he said.

As claimants craft a binding Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, Duterte lauded the Philippines’ contribution to the substantive progress in the second reading of the Single Draft COC Negotiating Text, as the country reaffirms its commitment to the conclusion of an effective and substantive COC.

Noting 2017-2027 as the Decade of Coastal and Marine Environmental Protection in the South China Sea, the president reiterated the Philippines’ call for holistic efforts to protect and preserve biodiversity and the marine environment.

Also during his intervention, the Filipino leader pointed out that a dynamic ASEAN-China cooperation puts both sides in a formidable position to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, address climate change and manage geopolitical issues.

He expressed his gratitude to China for supporting ASEAN’s pandemic response, particularly by “making life-saving vaccines global public goods,” the Palace said.

Also during the summit, the president said that ASEAN’s road to recovery from the coronavirus pandemic will be long and difficult as the region reels from the impact of the contagion.

He emphasized the need for a phased and comprehensive implementation of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework and called for the immediate establishment of the ASEAN Centre on Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases.

Aside from COVID-19 and the territorial dispute, the Palace said that Duterte also called on his fellow ASEAN leaders to stand with Myanmar in solving its crisis peacefully for the welfare of its people.

He likewise urged Myanmar’s political players to “engage in constructive dialogue,” and allow the ASEAN Special Envoy to visit the country.

At the 22nd ASEAN-Republic of Korea Summit, Duterte welcomed the Joint Statement on Advancing ASEAN-ROK Cooperation and underscored the need for deeper regional integration to accelerate post-pandemic recovery.

At the same time, he welcomed the signing of the Philippines-ROK Free Trade Agreement Tuesday, noting it is needed “for our economies to recover and bounce back,” the Palace said.

He also pushed for the full implementation of the ASEAN-Korea Free Trade Agreement and the early entry into force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, it added.

Malacañang also said that the President welcomed the United Kingdom as ASEAN’s new Dialogue Partner and vowed to enhance relations with the European Union (EU) as the new Country Coordinator for ASEAN-EU Dialogue Relations.

Duterte attended Tuesday’s summit via video conference. This is Duterte’s second straight year of virtually attending the meeting amid the coronavirus pandemic.

 

 

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