The “no” vote of the Philippines on a United Nations (UN) resolution urging Myanmar also known as Burma to end its military campaign against Rohingya Muslims living in its Rakhine state is being met with mix reactions. Some are in favor of the government’s stand, while others also said the government should have abstained from voting in fairness to non-Muslim ASEAN member countries. Rohingya Muslims are being shut out by the Myanmar government treating them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Nonetheless, the Rohingya Muslims maintain they have deep historical roots in Rakhine state and deserve Burmese citizenship. For this, Rohingyan Muslim families are displaced because of the war.
The Philippine government reasoned that its no vote is correct because as chair of this year’s ASEAN meetings, voting yes would probably push Myanmar leadership to harden its position in the ASEAN that will eventually put ASEAN efforts down the drain. The national government however maintained it is discussing the possibilities of providing humanitarian assistance to the displaced Rohingya Muslims and to help solve the root cause of the crisis. The Philippines is essentially not new to the problem for it is being confronted with similar problem. Nonetheless, voting no is like adhering to the human rights violations caused by Myanmar leadership to the Rohingyans. The gravity of the violations has caused alarm to the UN which is why it came up with the resolution.
For the administration’s detractors, voting yes would be incongruent to its current campaign against illegal drugs where tens of thousands of drug suspects already died. However, presidential spokesman Harry Roque was quick to defend the no vote as sign of respect to Myanmar’s efforts of solving the problem. Does he mean Malacañang respects the violence caused by Myanmar’s forces on all sides to the Rohingyans? Roque seems to be too tactless on this point as what he is being expected of since he assumed as presidential spokesman. The issue of Rohingyans is complex, which also calls for complex resolutions. This problem should be left to the Myanmar government to resolve, but when it comes to human rights violations on all sides being committed against the hapless Rohingyans, this calls for a united stand to put a stop to the violence against the Rohingya Muslims.