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Myanmar and the Philippines: change is coming?

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In mid-2015 I wrote an article on the similarities and differences of Burma and the Philippines at a time when both countries were preparing for their respective national elections, Burma in November 2015 and the Philippines in May 2016. (Read – http://opinion.inqui...learn-from-e….)
Now both countries have elected and installed new governments. Burma, after 45 years, has a non-military government with the National League for Democracy (NLD) Party at the helm while the Philippines since its birth as a republic more than a hundred years ago has, for the first time, a President — Rodrigo Duterte — from Mindanao, the long neglected resource-rich island of the country.
Burma’s government is semi-federal, with weak regional and local governments and a number of belligerent states with their own army, while the Philippines is presidential, generally influenced by the political and economic elite, with largely autonomous local governments. Duterte wants a major shift of the country’s presidential form of government to federal while Burma needs further restructuring as part of the peace process demands of the armed ethnic groups. Philippines can learn from Burma’s federal experience while Burma can study the local governance structure of the Philippines. Both countries should stamp out large business and economic interest hovering over government programs, officials and politicians.
NLD is faced with the huge expectation of forming a peace agreement with all the 16 armed ethnic groups, each with their own state government and independent army, while Duterte, even before being sworn into office, has already made initial steps for a peace agreement with the communist insurgents and offers federalism as a solution to the Moro rebellion in Mindanao. Duterte has appointed key personalities in his Cabinet who are aligned with the Communist Party of the Philippines.
NLD’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whose father was a military general and the founder of modern Burma, has worked hard to woo the military for support to NLD’s programs particularly its peace efforts. NLD’s stance vis-à-vis the large businesses controlled by military generals remains to be a big question however. Duterte on the other hand promised to substantially increase the salaries of the police and military to wage war against criminality and illegal drugs, his key platform for change.

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