Malacañang on Saturday defended the Philippines’ decision not to support a United Nations resolution calling on Myanmar to end a military campaign against Rohingya Muslims in the nation’s Rakhine state.
In a statement, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said the Philippines recognized Myanmar’s efforts toward resolving the problem.
“The issue in the Rakhine State is a complex one; and we believe that isolation and censure would only add to the difficulty the people there are now facing. This explains the vote of the Philippines (on) the UN resolution,” Roque said.
“We have expressed concern over the humanitarian situation in the Rakhine State. We are fully aware that it has deep historical roots and we acknowledge Myanmar’s efforts towards resolving the issues faced in the Rakhine State,” he added.
Roque also noted that the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) were briefed about these efforts during the recently concluded regional summit.
The Philippines, which recently hosted the biannual Asean Summit, was among 10 nations that opposed the draft text which calls for full and unhindered humanitarian aid access to Rakhine and for Myanmar to grant full citizenship rights to Rohingya Muslims, who are treated by Buddhists as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
A total of 135 countries voted in favor of the resolution while 26 abstained, paving the way for the revival of the text which was dropped last year because of the country’s progress on human rights under the leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Among Asean nations, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar voted against the draft; Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam were in favor, while Singapore and Thailand abstained.
Once adopted, the resolution is expected to deepen international pressure on Myanmar, but will have no legal consequence.