PH backs 'complete restoration' of democracy in Myanmar

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 9) — The Philippines called for the "complete restoration" of Southeast Asian neighbor Myanmar's democracy following a military power grab that sparked a series of demonstrations.

"The realization of this democratic process can only be achieved through the complete restoration of the status quo ante," Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin Jr. said in a statement.

Locsin said the Philippines has been supportive of Myanmar's progress towards a fuller democracy, recognizing the military's role in preserving its territorial integrity and national security, as well as the "unifying role" of detained State Counsellor and democracy icon Aung Sang Suu Kyi.

The DFA had expressed concern about the situation in Myanmar on February 1, the day the military took over the civilian government. It contradicted Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque's remark that the Philippines will not interfere in Myanmar's political situation because it is an "internal matter."

Both the DFA and the Palace, however, said they are regularly checking the welfare of Filipinos in Myanmar.

In a separate tweet, Locsin also reiterated the country's stance in seeking refuge for the Rohingya people amid the political turmoil in Myanmar. The Rohingyas are a Muslim minority group in Myanmar who are still facing persecution back home and in other countries that do not accept them as refugees.

"Our President Rodrigo Duterte offered a partial real solution: refuge for Rohingya. The West whine about them but reject them as refugees because they are dark and destitute," Locsin said.

Thousands in Myanmar have been defying curfews to protest the military takeover. Soldiers had detained Suu Kyi and other key politicians, claiming the November 2020 general elections were fraudulent. A state of emergency has also been declared in Myanmar.

In his first televised address since the coup, Myanmar's military leader Min Aung Hlaing on Tuesday said the new military government will hold elections and hand over power to the winner.

"For a multi-party democratic system, a fair and free election is important for the long term of the democratic system. We will have a multi-party election and we'll hand over the power to the one who wins in that election according to the rules of democracy," he said.

Locsin later tweeted: "One small step to the total return of the status quo ante."