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Philippines torn over US call for B
- Subject: Philippines torn over US call for B
- From: ausgeo@xxxxxxx
- Date: Mon, 28 Apr 1997 22:13:00
Subject: Philippines torn over US call for Burma sanctions: analyst
US-Burma-Philippines : Philippines torn over US call for Burma sanctions:
MANILA, April 28 (AFP) - The Philippines, which has remained silent over US
sanctions against Burma, is torn between supporting Washington and maintaining
links with Rangoon, an analyst here said.
Manila, which itself emerged from dictatorial rule 11 years ago, has toed the
Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) line, which prefers
"constructive engagement" with Burma's military rulers.
Philippine officials have declined to comment on the sanctions called by
Washington last week.
The US move comes in an effort to pressure Rangoon's ruling junta to ease up
on the pro-democracy movement headed by opposition leader and Nobel Peace
Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. Pressure has also mounted on ASEAN to keep
Burma out of the grouping, which it was expected to join, together with
Cambodia and Laos, later this year.
John Avila, a political economist with the private think tank Center for
Research and Communications, said that privately, Filipino officials may
sympathize with the Burmese opposition because "we also came from an
"But officially they will toe the ASEAN line because that (ASEAN unity) is a
higher goal and basically ASEAN works on non-interference in each other's
internal affairs," he told AFP.
Avila was referring to the Philippines' emergence in 1986 from the 20-year
dictatorship of the late president Ferdinand Marcos. The country spent 14 of
those years under martial law and saw thousands of Marcos' political opponents
jailed, Congress padlocked, rule by decree and heavy media restrictions.
Filipino opposition leaders at the time called on the international community,
led by the United States, to isolate Marcos. He was toppled in a popular
uprising in 1986 and died in exile in Hawaii in 1989.
Avila said US sanctions were unlikely to "drastically" affect Burma's economic
development, saying US investments in Rangoon are limited and investors from
ASEAN and Europe are "already knocking at the door of Burma."
ASEAN groups Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand
Avila said ASEAN, which includes some of the world's fastest growing
economies, has "become more assertive" in dealing with the United States and
other industrialized nations.
"They (ASEAN nations) are more confident about their own development and their
own inter-regional cooperation that they feel more in command where they
should go," Avila said.
He said Washington's call to shut out Burma from ASEAN would be difficult
because ASEAN's goal of including all 10 nations before the end of the decade
"is a primordial goal, a goal that cannot be compromised."
Washington, however, might resort to strong moves to force other countries to
support the sanctions such as passing legislation similar to the Helms-Burton
act against Cuba, Avila said.
The act penalizes companies from within or outside the United States that deal
with Cuba, with such actions as taking away visa privileges from these firms'
executives and their dependents.
While Avila said this could be a "far-fetched" move by Washington, it could
still be implemented if the situation in Burma becomes worse. US domestic
public opinion would favour such a move, he added.