MANILA, Philippines—Foreign Secretary David Miliband of the United Kingdom has commended the Philippines for pushing for a credible and effective body that would champion fundamental human rights in the ASEAN region, the British Embassy in Manila said in a statement Thursday.

The embassy said Miliband recently wrote Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo lauding the latter’s strong statement at the recent ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting in Hua Hin, Thailand.

In his speech, Romulo urged ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] members to fast-track the creation of a human rights body that would promote and protect individual and collective civil liberties.

“The British government stands ready to support the development of the new institution and would welcome any proposal on how to best support this initiative,” Miliband said in his letter to Romulo.

Miliband also praised Romulo’s statement on the need for political reform in Burma (Myanmar), including the release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

In his statement before ASEAN, Romulo said: “I believe it is time the government of Myanmar carried out its own ‘Roadmap for Democracy’—its avowed program of releasing political detainees, including the opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, unfettering the National League for Democracy and allowing its unconditional participation in free national elections.

“Since its acceptance into the ASEAN family in 1997, the government of Myanmar has been declaring its commitment to democracy and promising a process of national reconciliation. Fulfilling these commitments is long overdue.”

Romulo urged ASEAN members to fully support the UN secretary general as he tries to make break the political deadlock in Burma.

Miliband also said he was pleased that UK negotiation experts were sharing the Northern Ireland experience with the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and said he hoped the dialogue would continue.–Cynthia D. Balana, Philippine Daily Inquirer