By Aurea Calica
The Philippine Star
JAKARTA – The Philippines offered yesterday to help resolve the border row between Thailand and Cambodia during the meeting of member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) here.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said President Aquino conveyed this in the plenary session and during his bilateral meeting with Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. Aquino is also scheduled to have a bilateral meeting with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.
“The President expressed the desire of the Philippines to be of help in any way we can. And he has urged that the conflict be brought to a peaceful resolution in the spirit of ASEAN brotherhood and solidarity,” Del Rosario said.
The Thailand-Cambodia border dispute, which started in June 2008, involved the area surrounding the 11th-century Preah Vihear Temple located between the Choam Khsant district in the Preah Vihear province of northern Cambodia and the Kantharalak district in the Sisaket province of northeastern Thailand.
Both states also have a dispute over two other ancient temples called Tao Moan and Ta Krabey.
Both countries lay claim on the temples.
Meanwhile, the Philippines is backing Myanmar’s chairmanship of the 2014 ASEAN summit.
“There was an agreement that Myanmar will be the chair of in 2014,” Del Rosario said.
Myanmar is supposed to assume chairmanship of the regional bloc in 2015 but was reported to have negotiated with Laos to change turns.
The ASEAN inter-parliamentary caucus for Myanmar (AIPMC), however, called on ASEAN leaders to turn down Myanmar’s proposition.
AIPMC believed that the Myanmar government is still authoritarian and is holding many public leaders of different political inclinations.
New York based Human Rights Watch said ASEAN member-states should reject Myanmar’s request to assume chairmanship in 2014 until it takes genuine steps toward improvement of human rights and release of more than 2,000 political prisoners.
The Philippines also backed the entry of East Timor into ASEAN as long as it could meet the requirements set by the regional grouping.?East Timor or Timor Leste which is an observer at the summit had since 2010 expressed its interest in joining ASEAN.