MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi arrived at the Clark International Airport in Pampanga on Saturday, November 11, for the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Summits.
Hun Sen was the first head of government to arrive in the Philippines for this regional meeting. He landed in Clark at around 1:26 pm on Saturday.
The Cambodian prime minister was welcomed by Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. The welcoming party also included former president and now Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Hun Sen was last in the Philippines in April for the ASEAN Leaders’ Summit. President Rodrigo Duterte’s state visit to Cambodia in December 2016 was considered the first standalone bilateral visit of a Philippine president in two decades.
Hun Sen and Duterte are alike in terms of rejecting Western interference in internal affairs. Another common denominator between the Philippines and Cambodia is China.
Cambodia is a close Chinese ally, while Duterte has taken a pivot to China in terms of his foreign policy.
And like Duterte, Hun Sen has waged his own war on drugs in Cambodia, sending arrests soaring in his country. Hun Sen has promised he won’t allow killings in his campaign, according to a Reuters report.
Hun Sen is one of at least 20 world leaders arriving in the Philippines for the regional summit next week.
Suu Kyi arrival
Landing in the Philippines after Hun Sen was Myanmar’s Suu Kyi.
Suu Kyi arrived at around 2:06 pm on Saturday. She was also welcomed by Lorenzana and Arroyo.
Suu Kyi was fresh from a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, where the two discussed the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar.
Suu Kyi, a Nobeal laureate, has come under fire for alleged inaction on the persecution of Rohingya in her country. The United Nations accused the Burmese army of ethnic cleansing, and Suu Kyi is condemned for not intervening.
Experts say Suu Kyi has a tough balancing act to do given that she has a delicate relationship with the military there.
President Rodrigo Duterte once criticized Suu Kyi for not doing enough to help the Rohingya. But in March this year, Duterte gave Suu Kyi around $300,000 (P15 million) in humanitarian assistance for the Rohingya, said to be the biggest donation to them by an ASEAN country.
The Rohingya are a Muslim minority treated by the Myanmar government as illegal immigrants. Since August 2017, more than 600,000 Rohingya have fled to neighboring Bangladesh to escape conflict. – Rappler.com