SECRETARY TEODORO L. LOCSIN, JR.
Special Envoy at the
ASEAN LEADERS’ MEETING
[24 April 2021, 1330h-1530h (Jakarta Time) ASEAN Secretariat, Jakarta, Indonesia]
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I have the honor to deliver the intervention of His Excellency, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte:
“Your Majesty, Excellencies.
We welcome to our ASEAN family His Excellency Pham Minh Chinh of Viet Nam. Kindly extend my warmest congratulations to His Excellency Nguyen Xuan Phuc on his election as Viet Nam’s President.
I also welcome His Excellency Senior General Min Aung Hlaing of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. You are among brothers and sisters, and this too is your ASEAN family.
Allow me also to extend to His Excellency Joko Widodo and the people of Indonesia our deep concern on the missing submarine KRI Nanggala 402. Our hopes and prayers are with you as the search and rescue efforts continue.
We meet today on a matter that will affirm or cancel the core of our ASEAN identity, our ASEAN Way. The eyes of the world are upon us, but that matters the least. How we see ourselves in the future is what matters most.
ASEAN was founded on the determination of ‘countries of SouthEast Asia to ‘ensure their stability and security from external interference in any form or manifestation, in order to preserve their national identities in accordance with the ideals and aspirations of their peoples.’1 ‘In accordance with the ideals and aspirations of their peoples.’ Our peoples, the peoples of SouthEast Asia are watching us now.
ASEAN was born in reaction to the massive foreign intervention known as the Vietnam War, the cruelest conflict in the post-war world. Mercifully it ended well with the victories of our brothers in this room. Libya and Iraq not so and that is a fate I warned Daw Aung San Suu Kyi against when last we talked.
To them I reaffirm the Philippines’ strong commitment to the sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity and unity of Myanmar and its return firmly and irreversibly to the path of democracy.
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 the ASEAN 10. The rest of ASEAN must stand by Myanmar; ready to work with and give what help it is asked.
With Myanmar as lead, let us launch a process towards reconciliation. Towards this, a commitment to end violence on all sides and to de-escalate tension and unrest is vital. Reason cannot be heard above the shouting and shooting; the provocation and reaction. We also call on security forces in Myanmar to exercise restraint; and refrain from using excessive force against unarmed citizens and demonstrators; especially against the children.
At the same time it is crucial that we enable delivery of unhindered humanitarian assistance to all who need it. Prompt and adequate medical care and access to health services are priorities.
We urge a return to dialogue. The release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint, and other political detainees sets a conducive environment for this.
We are cognizant of the Army’s role in preserving Myanmar’s territorial integrity and national security, ever under threat from those who wish to break her apart and feast on her dismembered parts. But even so we equally recognize the unifying role of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in her country’s history and its destiny.
Let us consider all possible existing ASEAN mechanisms at hand. For a start we support the proposal for the Chair and the ASEAN Secretary-General to visit Myanmar to initiate talks among all concerned parties; with the view to improve the situation on the ground. Brunei Darussalam, as Chair, is in the position to accomplish significant and steady steps toward the restoration of peace, the return of political normalcy; most urgently, ending the violence.
The appointment of an ASEAN Special Envoy acceptable to Myanmar and all sides assures all a mechanism for continuing dialogue and feedback; we support the ASEAN Troika mechanism.
Every step ASEAN actually takes can only be done together by consensus. And it must focus on ASEAN centrality. But central in what respect?
It must be a centrality for the good, such as to protect a member’s sovereign independence and advance its people’s wellbeing and safety. These times call for a vocal, polite but firm and clear ASEAN engagement in the form of a united appeal to the better angels of our nature. We are better than our critics make us out to be.
We offer this advice with the humility of those who went through the same experiences; faced the same choices; but received the help we now offer.
In 1986, during the EDSA Revolution, soldiers and civilians faced-off on the avenue that now proudly bears that name. In that tense moment, when the avenue could have been awash with the blood of fellow countrymen, ASEAN came together. It called ‘on all parties to restore national unity and solidarity so as to maintain national resilience.’ It reminded us that ‘[t]here is still time to act with restraint and bring about a peaceful resolution of the crisis’2. The protagonists in the Philippines listened. Not a drop of blood was shed. That prompting by family helped the Philippines tread the path towards the democracy that we are today. Thank you.” END