Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi personally asked Senator Richard J. Gordon, also chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Philippine Red Cross, to send its humanitarian workers and volunteers to Myanmar, and provide humanitarian assistance to the affected communities in the restive Rakhine State.
The request was made in a series of meetings held during the recent Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Clark, Pampanga and Manila.
Suu Kyi first made the request to Gordon during a dinner for the Myanmar State Counsellor and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen last November 11 in Pampanga. The dinner was hosted by former president and Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Suu Kyi reiterated the request to Gordon when the two met again in Manila for the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) Summit last November 15. The meeting was personally requested by Suu Kyi through Myanmar Ambassador to the Philippines Win Naing, who advised Gordon that the State Counsellor wants to see him during her stay in the Philippines for the ASEAN Summit.
Prior to this, Suu Kyi and Gordon met when the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS) asked Gordon to lead a high-level humanitarian diplomacy mission in Myanmar from October 14 to 18.
During the said mission, Gordon was also able to get recognition for the MRCS as the Myanmar Government’s partner of choice during times of disasters and other humanitarian challenges, with the society partnering with other partners. As the partner of choice, MRCS should always be consulted because they know the situation better.
Gordon also successfully secured the fast access and safe provision of relief goods and personnel of the Red Cross Movement to Rakhine State. From two to four weeks, it only takes one day to get the approval of Myanmar’s Ministry of Health and Sports.
He was also able to get Suu Kyi to understand that MRCS, IFRC and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) belong to one Red Cross Movement that is impartial and neutral with an objective to alleviate human suffering and uplift human dignity.
The humanitarian mission to Myanmar was facilitated by IFRC Asia Pacific Regional Director Xavier Castellanos to strengthen the response capacity of the Myanmar Red Cross through peer to peer dialogue and support by the Philippine Red Cross.
It can be recalled that Suu Kyi made first visit to Rakhine State on November 2 following Gordon’s mission in Myanmar.