The Philippines is moving toward closer ties with Burma, a country it once harshly criticized for its human rights record.
President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday told Burma’s Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin that the Philippines could share lessons with Burma that it learned during its own difficult transition from dictatorship to democracy.
The overthrow of the Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 in a historic people’s uprising was led by the current president's mother, democracy icon Corazon Aquino, who was elected president after Marcos fell.
Aquino "noted that the Philippines also went through a transition to democracy, and that we are ready to share our experience with Myanmar if it will help them in their own transition," presidential spokesman Ricky Carandang said, according to an article by the Associated Press.
Carandang said recent sectarian violence between Buddhists and Muslims in western Burma was not discussed by Aquino and Wunna Maung Lwin, according to AP.
Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said he might raise the issue when he meets his Myanmar counterpart on Friday, the last day of his two-day visit.
Of all the member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Philippines was among the most critical of Burma’s military regime, which created an elected parliament in 2010.
The Philippines also experience sectarian violence in relations between Christians and Muslims.
Carandang said that Aquino did not ask for Burma’s support in its dispute with China over islands in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), but the issue was discussed in passing during the meeting, according to the Philippines Times.
"The President said that a resolution of the territorial issue would enhance stability in the entire region,” he said. He said the issue could be raised when Lwin meets the Philippines foreign minister on Friday.