More than 20 civil society, labor groups, NGOs, academics, development workers and individuals have formally asked the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for a joint effort to intercede for the Burmese peoples who are resisting the military takeover of their democratically elected government.
On Friday, the group, led by the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) along with trade union and civil society groups, sent a letter to Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. for a dialogue on how to best consolidate the efforts of the Philippine government and other non-state actors in support of the Burmese, who are also known as the Myanmar people.
To recall, the Tatmadaw, the official name of Myanmar’s military, seized control on 1 February following a general election which the ruling National League of Democracy (NLD) party won by a landslide. NLD is led by the erstwhile democracy icon and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Syu Kyi.
Burma gained independence from Britain in 1948 and was ruled by the armed forces from 1962 until recently this year, when a new government began ushering in a return to civilian rule. The military, however, is now back in charge and has declared a year-long state of emergency citing fraud in the last elections.
“While we welcome the pronouncement of the Philippine government to stand by the people of Myanmar and will only accept the status quo ante, we were however expecting a more forward position in condemning the illegal coup and ongoing violence perpetrated by the Tatmadaw and its increasingly bloody response on the peaceful protesters of the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM),” reads a portion of the letter the group sent to the DFA.
Noting that the Philippines has always been regarded as a citadel and champion of democracy in the region if not in all of Asia, particularly since the peaceful People Power revolution at EDSA in 1986, the group is hoping that the Secretary, himself a key part of the EDSA revolution, would take a personal interest in addition to his official capacity as DFA’s Secretary, in assisting the Burmese people in securing their fledgling democratic institutions.
The groups, individually and collectively, have been active and part of the growing regional and global people’s campaign in support of the civil disobedience movement in Myanmar in calling out the junta to release all those arrested and allow the democratically elected civilian government to rule.
The NLD’s election victory was affirmed by various independent election observers including governments and the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL), of which the country’s NAMFREL which legitimized the election of then President Cory Aquino, is a key member.
Some of the members that recently signified a joint effort with the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) were:
- Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO)
- Akbayan Citizens’ Action Party
- Akbayan Youth
- ASEAN SOGIE Caucus (ASC)
- ASEAN Youth Forum Philippines
- Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA)
- Center for Youth Advocacy and Networking (CYAN), Inc
- Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific (CATW-AP)
- Gaston Z. Ortigas Peace Institute (GZOPI)
- NAGKAISA Labor Coalition
- Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK)
- Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP)
- Tindig Kabataan
- Partido Manggagawa (PM)
- Peace Women Partners (PWP)
- Philippine Women’s Network for Peace and Security
- Philwomen on ASEAN
- WomanHealth Philippines
- Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau, Inc (WLB)
- World March of Women – Pilipinas (WMW)