Philippines refuses to 'interfere,' calls Myanmar coup 'internal matter'

The oldest democracy in Southeast Asia said it sees the military takeover of Myanmar's democratically elected government as an "internal matter" it will not interfere with.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's office gave this position on Monday, February 1, as the coup was unfolding.

"Inaasahan po natin na sa lalong mabilis na panahon sana po bumalik sa normal 'yan, bagama't ang pangyayari po sa Myanmar ay isang bagay na internal at hindi po natin pinanghihimasukan," said Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque during a press briefing.

(We expect that at the soonest possible time things will go back to normal, though the situation in Myanmar is an internal matter we won't interfere with.)

Roque then said that the "primary" concern of the Philippine government is the safety of Filipinos currently in Myanmar, promising that the embassy will assist nationals there and will provide them protection and temporary shelter, if needed.

Response of other countries

The Philippines' remarks are markedly different from other democracies, both in the Asia-Pacific and beyond.

Singapore expressed "grave concern" about the military coup and urged "restraint" and "dialogue" among the actors involved.

Australia spoke of its "deep concern" and called on the military to "respect the rule of law" and the release of elected leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi, a call echoed by the United States.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the military's move and urged it to "respect the will of the people of Myanmar."

The Philippines' response was more similar to those of Thailand and Cambodia. The two Southeast Asian countries also labelled the coup as an "internal" matter. –

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at