Duterte hit the military junta for firing at the protesters who, led by saffron-robed monks, lodged peaceful marches in the streets of Rangoon and other cities.
The mayor said the events in Burma (renamed Myanmar by the junta) have drawn international attention. He hinted at urging the Philippine government to urge the United Nations Security Council to apply force against the military junta. But he conceded that Burma’s allies China and Russia, who are permanent members of the Council, would likely veto any intervention.
The other permanent members of the UN Security Council are the United Kingdom, United States and France.
Duterte said there is no democracy in Burma as the military has taken control of government. He said elections should be held to give the Burmese people the right to choose their leaders.
He recounted the jailing of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, now under house arrest in Rangoon, in 1991 even after her National League of Democracy swept the elections.
The military junta did not recognize the election results and jailed its political opponents. The crackdown triggered sporadic street protests that international media reported to have killed at least 3,000 protesters, mostly students.
Duterte said pro-democracy leader Suu Kyi took part in the elections even if she was the daughter of Aung San, Burma's ‘liberator’ from British rule.
Speaking on the Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa weekly television program of the city government over ABS-CBN Davao the mayor said he favors the use of force to stop the military junta. The heavy-handed suppression of the protests, characterized by open firing and raids on monasteries, had prompted criticism even from China, Burma's closest ally, and rare condemnation from the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Myanmar is a member. Sunday’s tirade against the Burmese military was not the first time that Duterte, himself also a critic of American military presence in the Philippines, lashed out at another ASEAN member.
In 1995, he led city government employees in burning Singapore’s flag in front of City Hall to signify his solidarity with the national outrage over the decision of a Singaporean court to hang Filipina domestic helper Flor Contemplacion for allegedly murdering a compatriot.
Duterte protested what he called an injustice not just against Contemplacion and her family but the entire Filipino people as well. The move triggered the burning of Singapore flags by militant groups all over the country.
Contemplacion, a 42-year-old Filipina maid, was convicted by a Singaporean court for the death of another Filipina maid, Delai Maga, and Nicholas Huang, the three-year-old son of her Singaporean employer, on May 4, 1991.
Duterte made amends with the Singaporean government 10 years later when Davao City hosted the 2005 Asean Tourism Forum. Singapore put up a big show to highlight its hosting of the forum a year after.
Meanwhile, the Davao-based Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) has denounced the violent crackdown against protesters. The group has slated a series of solidarity activities to support the ‘ongoing’ people power uprising in Burma.
On October 1 and 2, IID will hold prayer vigils before the Japanese, Malaysian, and Indonesian consular offices to urge their governments to withdraw support for Burma. Davao-based Burmese nationals will also join civil society groups in a solidarity gathering. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)