Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque (File photo)

MANILA – The Philippines is ready to repatriate Filipinos in Myanmar after its military seized power and arrested the country’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other top officials of the ruling National League for Democracy party, Malacañang said Monday.

In a Palace press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the government’s top priority is to ensure the safety of Filipinos in Myanmar.

“Well, siyempre po ang ating pangunahing interest ay iyong kaligtasan ng ating mga mamamayan. Gumagalaw po ngayon ang ating embahada sa Myanmar para magbigay ng tulong sa lahat ng mga Pilipino (Of course our primary interest is the safety of our citizens. Our embassy in Myanmar is providing assistance to Filipinos there),” he said.

Roque said the government may either assist them for possible repatriation or provide them with temporary shelter until the situation improves.

“Kung gusto pong umuwi ng ilang mga Pilipino, gagawan po natin ng paraan para sila ay makauwi, kung gusto po nilang temporary shelter diyan sa ating embassy, maghahanap po tayo ng mga paraan ‘no at pinag-iingat nga po natin ang lahat ng ating mga kababayan diyan sa Myanmar (If some Filipinos want to return home, we will find a way to bring them home, if they want temporary shelter from our embassy, we will find a way and we remind our citizens in Myanmar to be careful),” he added.

Roque said the country’s armed forces assets are on standby should there be a need to repatriate Filipinos in Myanmar.

He refused to comment on “internal” matters concerning Myanmar, but expressed hope that the issue in Myanmar would be resolved soon.

“Inaasahan po natin na sa lalong mabilis na panahon sana po bumalik sa normal iyan bagama’t ang pangyayari po sa Myanmar ay isang bagay na internal at hindi po natin pinanghihimasukan. Ang importante po iyong kaligtasan ng ating mga mamamayan diyan sa Myanmar (We expect that at the soonest possible time things will go back to normal, though the situation in Myanmar is an internal matter we won't interfere with. What important is the safety of our citizens in Myanmar),” he said.

In a separate statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs said the situation in Yangon and Mandalay so far “seems stable” apart from restrictions caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic and mobile service interruptions.

As of June 2020, there are about 1,273 Filipinos in Myanmar, according to the DFA.

Myanmar’s military declared a one-year state of emergency, transferring power to military leader Min Aung Hlaing and new acting president Myint Swe, a former general and vice president.

This, after Suu Kyi and other top politicians were detained by the military after allegations of irregularities and fraud in Myanmar’s multiparty general elections on Nov. 8, 2020. (PNA)