Philippines' Marcos says Myanmar a difficult problem for Asean

Philippines' Marcos says Myanmar a difficult problem for Asean
Ferdinand Marcos Jr. President of the Philippines speaks at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit in San Francisco, California, US, Nov 15, 2023. 
PHOTO: Reuters file

MANILA — The conflict in military-ruled Myanmar has been a difficult issue for the Southeast Asian bloc Asean to address, with little progress made towards a resolution and intensifying fighting, Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos said.

Speaking at a forum in Hawaii streamed live in the Philippines on Monday (Nov 20), Marcos said there was commitment from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), but the issue was complex, including the humanitarian impact.

The United Nations says more than a million people have been displaced since Myanmar's military staged a coup in 2021, upending a decade of tentative democracy and plunging the country into conflict and economic ruin.

"There is a great deal of impetus for Asean to solve this problem. But it is a very, very difficult problem," Marcos said.

The junta's post-coup crackdown on opponents gave rise to a resistance movement that has been growing in strength. Asean has barred the top generals from attending its meeting until they commit to the bloc's two-year-old peace roadmap.

The Philippines will chair Asean in 2026 after it replaced Myanmar as host that year.

Tens of thousands more people have been displaced since last month as the military battles a coordinated offensive by an alliance of three ethnic-minority groups and pro-democracy fighters.

Marcos, citing analyses of the recent escalation, said the junta had already lost support from its own military.

He said the humanitarian cost of conflict had "grown exponentially" in recent years, with the Philippines also impacted with its citizens among victims of human trafficking there.

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