Duterte gives $300,000 humanitarian aid for Rakhine region

Ruth Abbey Gita

IN HIS official visit to Myanmar, President Rodrigo Duterte has provided a humanitarian assistance worth $300,000 for the crisis involving the Rohingya minorities in the host country’s Rakhine region, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Monday.

“President Duterte, in a handover ceremony following the meeting, turned over a symbolic check representing the Philippines’ pledge of US $300,000 humanitarian assistance for communities in Rakhine State,” the DFA said in a statement.

Some 1.1 million people in the state of Rakhine identify themselves as Rohingya Muslims, an ethnic minority suffering persecution in the Buddhist-majority nation. Thousands of Rohingyas have decided to flee to neighboring countries, including Bangladesh, as tensions between Buddhists and Rohingyas continue to escalate.

In a letter of appreciation, State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, on behalf of government officials in Myanmar, expressed appreciation for the Philippines' “generous contribution” to help Rohingya minorities.

“The thoughtful gesture of the government of the Philippines reflects the Asean solidarity and family spirit, as well as the traditional bonds of friendship and cooperation between our two countries,” she said.

The DFA said Duterte’s bilateral talks with Myanmar President U Htin Kyaw and Suu Kyi reaffirmed good relations between Myanmar and the Philippines.

Duterte and U Htin both sought to strengthen the bilateral relations between the two countries. The Philippines is an ally of Myanmar for over 60 years.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said that during the President’s dialogue with Suu Kyi, he invited her to go to the Philippines and the latter said she would consider the invitation.

The DFA said the President also expressed his intent to bolster two-way trade and investment, citing the growing presence of Philippine companies in Myanmar.

Duterte is expected to depart Myanmar for his official visit to Thailand on Monday evening, 8:35 p.m. (SunStar Philippines)