139 Filipinos repatriated from Myanmar amid political crisis

Filipinos arrive in Manila from Myanmar. Photo: Department of Foreign Affairs/Twitter
Filipinos arrive in Manila from Myanmar. Photo: Department of Foreign Affairs/Twitter

Several overseas Filipino workers arrived in Manila from Myanmar on a chartered flight yesterday, as the Southeast Asian country continues to grapple with a political crisis.

The 139 workers were welcomed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport by Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) officials, led by Secretary Teodoro Locsin. A photo and video of the workers’ arrival were posted on the DFA’s Twitter account.

The repatriates included 11 children and two senior citizens. A total of 509 workers were brought home to the Philippines from Myanmar since March 2020, the DFA said.

Read: Yangon clamors with protests demanding military stand down (Photos)

DFA Undersecretary Brigido Dulay said in an interview with ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo yesterday that the government is willing to repatriate more Filipinos, whether they are fleeing due to the political crisis or the pandemic.

“We don’t really bother asking them about their reasons. As long as they need the government’s help…we will bring home everyone who wants to go home,” Dulay said in Filipino and English.

“We don’t have to talk about why they want to go home,” he added.

Myanmar’s former civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint have been under house arrest since a coup toppled their government two weeks ago. Meanwhile, the junta has detained 70 members of the ruling  National League for Democracy party, but the politicians continue to convene in the capital of Naypyidaw.

The Philippines is one of five countries that have disassociated themselves from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution which called for the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi and Win Myint. The same resolution also urged the military junta to refrain from using violence against protestors.

“As a sovereign country in a world of sovereign states, the Philippines cannot stress strongly enough the primacy of national internal efforts towards democratic reforms, and never by the imposition of foreign solutions whether in regional or multilateral contexts, including through this Council. We reaffirm our support of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Myanmar,” the DFA said in a statement to defend its non-confrontational position.

Other countries that do not support the UNHRC’s resolution are China, which the Duterte government has called its BFF (best friend forever); Russia, Venezuela, and Bolivia.

 

 

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