Dato Sri Anifah Aman, Foreign Minister of Malaysia addresses the United Nations General Assembly, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, at U.N. headquarters. AP/Craig Ruttle

DFA: Cayetano's statement issued after consultations with Malaysia
Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) - September 25, 2017 - 6:46am

MANILA, Philippines — The statement recently issued by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on the crisis in the Rakhine state in Myanmar was made after consultations with Malaysia, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Monday.

Other ASEAN foreign ministers, however, were aware that Malaysia would dissociate itself from the statement on the humanitarian situation in Myanmar's Rakhine state.

"ASEAN is deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in the northern Rakhine State and since Malaysia has different views on some issues, out of respect for its position, we decided that instead of a Foreign Ministers Statement, we would issue a Chairman's Statement that would reflect the general statements of the other foreign ministers," the DFA said in a statement.

Malaysia has dissociated itself with the ASEAN chairman statement which omitted the Rohingyas as one of the affected communities in the so-called "clearance operations" efforts by Myanmar authorities.

READ: Malaysia calls Cayetano's statement on Rohingya crisis a 'misrepresentation of reality'

Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said Cayetano's statement was not based on consensus and that there was a "misrepresentation of the reality of the situation."

The DFA insisted that Cayetano's statement reflected the sentiments of the ASEAN foreign ministers who attended meetings about the issue on the sides of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

As chairman of the ASEAN this year, the Philippines "tolerates the public manifestation of dissenting voices."

"This demonstrates a new level of maturity on how we implement ASEAN's consensus principle when confronted with issues affecting national interests," the DFA said.

The Philippine government stressed that it respects Malaysia's stand on the issue and its decision to disassociate itself from Cayetano's statement.

In the statement, the ASEAN foreign ministers condemned the attacks against Myanmar security forces and urged all parties to avoid actions that will further worsen the situation in the ground.

The statement welcomed the commitment of Myanmar authorities "to ensure the safety of civilians, take immediate steps to end the violence in Rakhine, restore normal socio-economic conditions and address the refugee problem through verification process."

On the other hand, Malaysia noted that the efforts of Myanmar authorities were disproportionate, leading to the deaths of many innocent civilians and the displacement of more than 400,000 Rohingyas.

"We express grave concerns over such atrocities which have unleashed a full-scale humanitarian crisis that the world simply cannot ignore but must be compelled to act upon," Aman said.

RELATED: Rohingya Muslims being wiped off Myanmar's map

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