Aquino in Myanmar, to meet with Suu Kyi
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Benigno Aquino III arrived in Myanmar Friday morning, June 7, to meet with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and President Thein Sein.
Aquino left for Myanmar early Friday to attend the World Economic Forum on East Asia 2013.
In his departure statement, Aquino said his trip aims to improve ties between the Philippines and Myanmar, and highlight Manila’s economic growth.
“We will have a bilateral meeting with President Thein Sein of Myanmar to form a mechanism to boost the cooperation of our nations in trade, politics and security,” he said.
Aquino said he was also looking forward to meeting with Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy party, a former political prisoner and Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
“We are excited to meet with Madame Aung San Suu Kyi … because of her conviction and heroism for democracy. We expect that our exchange of ideas with these two leaders will lead to agreements to improve our relations, and cause progress in our countries,” the President said.
Aquino said he will participate in the Forum, which aims to strengthen economic ties of participating country, and cooperation in various areas. More than 900 people from 50 countries are attending the meetings.
He said the Philippines’ role in the forum is meaningful because it will host the World Economic Forum on East Asia 2014.
“This is our chance to show the world the growth of our economy in the straight and narrow path, and encourage leaders and businessmen not to waste this opportunity to join the progress of what is acknowledged as the ‘brightest spark’ of Southeast Asia: none other than our beloved Philippines,” Aquino said.
PH, Myanmar ‘in spotlight’
Palace Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang earlier said that Aquino’s trip comes at a “good time” as the Philippines and Myanmar are both in the spotlight for economic and political reforms.
“I think it’s important for us to encourage the steps of the Myanmar government in the right direction. Remember, President Aquino was very vocal about reforms in Myanmar and when they began their reforms, he was also one of the first leaders to express support,” Carandang told reporters Thursday.
Besides the meeting with the two leaders, Aquino will join a roundtable assembly with top business executives hosted by the Ayala Corporation.
His trip is a short one, as he is expected to return to Manila at midnight.
Aquino’s meeting with Suu Kyi comes a day after the Myanmar opposition leader announced that she is eyeing the presidency of her poor and formerly hermetic country that is now opening to the world.
“I want to run for president and I’m quite frank about it,” she said at the open discussion at the Forum.
Suu Kyi said that two years into the presidency of Thein Sein, many of Myanmar’s ordinary people do not see the benefits of reform.
“If you talk to the man on the street, if you talk to people in villages, the great majority of them would say that their lives have not changed since 2010.”
Under Myanmar’s constitution though, Suu Kyi is ineligible to seek the presidency because of a clause that bans anyone with a foreign spouse or child. She said she will push to change the charter.
"I don't believe in indulging in optimism. Let me put it this way. I've always said hope has to be backed up by endeavor.”
"So, rather than being optimistic or hoping that the constitution will be amended we're going to work for the constitution to be amended."
Aquino’s mother was a staunch supporter of Suu Kyi, and also pushed for human rights and democracy in Myanmar. – Rappler.com