Published on Thursday, 24 January 2013 18:31
Democracy activists who returned from a study tour of the Philippines this week are highlighting a transformation in that country’s military from a purely combative organisation to one whose soldiers work for national peace.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines even honours its troops by considering how they contribute to national peace and civil society, members of the 88 Generation Students Group told a press conference earlier this week after 16 of its members returned from a five-day visit to the Philippines.
The trip was arranged by the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies.
Ko Ko Gyi, a leader of the 88 Generation Students Group, said the Philippine armed forces had transformed itself from a military that honoured and decorated its members based on how they reacted in battle to one that considered how its members contributed to society.
The Philippines is trying to transform its armed forces into a peace force, Ko Ko Gyi said.
Events in the Philippines are worth paying close attention to due to its similar history to Myanmar’s, he said. The Philippines overthrew a dictatorship through a public movement in 1986, while Myanmar saw its single-party political system break down following the student-led uprising in 1988, Ko Ko Gyi said.
Myanmar, however, was left far behind in the shift to democracy due to the military coup that followed the uprising, he said, adding that the reason the group visited the Philippines was to see how it resolved armed conflicts and achieve peace.
"The Philippine armed forces can handle public relations effectively. If they have a certain military operation, they try to make it as transparent as possible so the public can understand," Ko Ko Gyi said.
He said he had informed President's Office ministers Soe Thein and Aung Min of the group’s visit, which included meetings with the commander-in-chief of the Philippine Armed Forces, armed groups, rights activists and peace groups.
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