ASEAN Summit

Myanmar place in ASEAN was ‘contentious’ issue, says PH President Marcos

Bea Cupin

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Myanmar place in ASEAN was ‘contentious’ issue, says PH President Marcos

ASEAN. Leaders stand for the ASEAN anthem at the opening ceremony for the 40th and 41st ASEAN Summits in Phnom Penh, Cambodia November 11, 2022.


ASEAN members eventually agree that Myanmar stays and that junta leaders aren’t allowed in summits – but not without initial disagreements, says the Philippine president

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – The issue of Myanmar participation in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was “a little contentious,” according to Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.

“That the Five Point [Consensus] that Myanmar had agreed with ASEAN, eh hindi nasusunod (wasn’t being followed). Anong gagawin natin (So what do we do)? And that was a little contentious,” Marcos told Philippine media in an interview after his participation in the 40th and 41st ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh.

Myanmar place in ASEAN was ‘contentious’ issue, says PH President Marcos

Marcos was referring to the peace agreement that ASEAN members, including Myanmar’s military junta leaders, had agreed to during a meeting in Jakarta back in 2021. In early 2021, the military ousted the elected government in Myanmar and have remained in power since.

The consensus was meant to ensure that hostilities would cease and tensions, die down. The ruling junta, however, has not met its commitments to the regional bloc, prompting ASEAN to bar military leaders from attending high-level meetings, including the leaders’ summits and foreign ministers’ meetings.

ASEAN eventually came out with a review and decision on the consensus and on Myanmar on November 11, pressing the junta on its commitments to the bloc while still deciding that the country remains a member. However, ASEAN stuck to its earlier decision to bar military leaders to high-level summits.

According to Marcos, the move to keep Myanmar in ASEAN was a hotly-debated topic.

Kasi may mga bansa, sabi nila, basta tanggalin na natin ang Myanmar sa ASEAN. O basta’t huwag nating imbitahin at all. Mayroon naman nagsasabi na hindi huwag lang ‘yung mga nasa taas, pero ‘yung sa ilalim kailangan pa rin natin kausapin ‘yan. Meron naman – tayo ‘yun – sinabi ko, kausapin natin lahat. Kausapin pati ‘yung nasa position, pati ‘yung nasa nakaupo, pati ‘yung naka… kahit naman sino na interesado dapat kausapin natin o pag-usapin natin,” he said.

(Some countries said, just remove Myanmar from ASEAN. Or let’s not invite them at all. There were those who said let’s not talk to the officials on top but let’s talk to the lower-level officials. There were also some countries – that’s us, the Philippines – I said, let’s talk to everyone. Let’s talk to those in power, even… anyone who is interested in talking to us or interested to talk at all.)

At the ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh, Myanmar had “non-political representation.”

The Philippines’ Assistant Secretary for ASEAN Nathaniel Imperial had earlier told media the mode of decision, or how the bloc would decide on things, and Myanmar’s representation to ASEAN, were issues where member countries’ representatives could not find consensus. But a little after noon on November 11, bloc members eventually agreed on all points, leading to the issuance of their decision.

Marcos was in Cambodia from November 9 to 13 to participate in the summits and to hold bilateral meetings on the sides. The Philippine President met with his counterparts from Cambodia, Brunei, South Korea, and Canada. –

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.