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Cayetano: PH vote in UN on Rohingya aims to prevent harder stance in Myanmar

Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano (INQUIRER.net file photo)

Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said on Monday that it was to ensure humanitarian aid could come for Rohingyan refugees that prompted the Philippines to vote against a United Nations draft resolution calling for the Rohingya’s full and unhindered access to humanitarian aid.

The Rohingya are members of a Muslim minority group now fleeing Myanmar to escape violence there, with many of them seeking refuge in Bangladesh.

Cayetano, who was in the Senate on Monday, said there were actually three reasons why the government decided a yes vote on the UN resolution was not an option.

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First, the Philippine government feared that Myanmar would harden its stance on allowing humanitarian aid into its territory. This, Cayetano said, this might affect the role of the Philippines and international relief agencies.

Second, the government refrains from supporting politicized issues.

Third, it always considers the situation on the ground.

That was why the government made the call to vote against the UN draft resolution in New York recently “to open access [in Myanmar] and gain [its] trust,” according to Cayetano.

“And from our point of view, if the objective is to be able to help, the best was to abstain or vote no,” he said.

He said he would still talk to Philippine Ambassador to the United Nations Teodoro Locsin Jr. on the final vote of the government once the issue would be raised in the UN plenary session.

Locsin said he would push for abstaining from the vote.

Pressed on why Myanmar would take a hard line stance on humanitarian aid for Rohingyans, Cayetano said there were violent skirmishes among minorities there now “and if the world comes in too strong and human rights gets politicized, you don’t know how the military side of Myanmar will react.” /atm

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TAGS: Alan Peter Cayetano, DFA, Myanmar politics, Rohingya Muslims
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