Philippine Foreign affairs secretary Albert Del Rosario renewed decades call for release of all remaining 2,000 political prisoners in Myanmar (Burma).

Also, Del Rosario said last year’s release of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi by Myanmar’s ruling military junta was simply not enough to fulfill the country’s commitment to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)’s “Roadmap to Democracy.”

“We have always been forthright in our position on Myanmar… that it should take all the steps towards the Roadmap to Democracy,” said Del Rosario at a luncheon with members of the Philippine diplomatic press corps.

He said that releasing all remaining Burmese political prisoners “should complete all the steps towards democracy,” and it should not end with just the release of Suu Kyi and holding of elections.

“Even after the first elections, we have taken firm decision that all the steps towards the Roadmap should be implemented and that included the release of all the political prisoners,” he said.

The first democratic elections in Burma held in November last year were widely criticized as majority of those elected were members of the ruling military junta, while the remaining posts were filled by candidates of Suu Kyi’s political party the National League of Democracy (NLD).

But Del Rosario was quick to clarify that urging Myanmar to fulfill its commitments under the Roadmap to Democracy was not the task of just the Philippines but of the whole of Asean.

“Asean is based on a consensus and we try not to be critical,” he explained.

Asean groups the Philippines and Burma/Myanmar, along with Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Singapore and Brunei.

Western countries particularly the US and the European Union remain critical of ASEAN’s policy of constructive engagement and consensus because this prevents the association from imposing sanctions on Myanmar’s military junta for its rampant human rights abuse perpetrated against its own Burmese people.

In 2007, Burma’s military junta committed to the Asean that it will implement the Roadmap to Democracy which includes the release of Nobel Peace prize winner Suu Kyi, the holding of first democratic elections, the investigation of human rights atrocities by a visiting United Nations high official, and the release of all the more than 2,000 political prisoners. — MRT/LBG, GMA News