• DFA urges peaceful end to Thai conflict

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    The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Friday called on the Thai government to “return to normalcy” and find a peaceful resolution to the political and security conflict in the country.

    In a statement, the DFA assured the public that it is monitoring the developments in Thailand, Southeast Asia’s second largest economy.

    The statement said the Philip–pine government stood behind the joint communiqué released by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) foreign ministers that supported “a peaceful resolution of the present situation.”

    “The Philippines likewise hopes for an early return to normalcy consistent with de–mocratic principles, the rule of law and the will and interest of the Thai people,” it said.

    On Tuesday, the Thai military declared martial law, prompting the Philippines to raise alert level 2 there, which means the 10,000 to 15,000 Filipinos living and working in Thailand must restrict their movements and defer non-essential travel.

    Although no tourist ban was set, the agency discouraged Filipinos from traveling to Thailand, a known tourist hotspot.

    Charles Jose, DFA spokesman, also said a team composed of senior DFA officials was ready to be deployed to Bangkok to augment the embassy there and activate a possible eva–cuation program.

    The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), for its part, imposed a deployment ban on newly hired workers to the country. Only those with existing contracts will be allowed to return to Thailand, Jose said.

    On Thursday, Thai’s military seized power through a bloodless coup in attemps to end the country’s political turmoil. The move was not welcomed by Thailand’s western allies, however.

    The United States warned Thailand that it may suspend a $10-million aid package, while the European Union voiced “extreme concern” over the developments.

    Violence in recent months, as well as the declaration of martial law, marked the latest in the eight-year uprising by the rural supporters of populist former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra against Thailand’s traditional elites.

    The crisis deepened two weeks ago when Thailand’s constitutional court removed Yingluck Shina–watra, Thaksin’s sister, from her position as prime minister because of nepotism.

    The court also removed nine cabinet members in a case that many viewed as politically motivated.

    However, protesters say Yingluck’s removal was not enough since Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan, who took over as caretaker prime minister, is from the same ruling party as the Shinawatras.

    Since the end of absolute monarchy in Thailand in 1932, the Thai army has already staged 11 successful coups.

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