Burma's Prime Minister, General Than Shwe, is to lay a wreath today at a Manila memorial to Filipino nationalist hero Jose Rizal - a doctor shot by the Spanish colonial regime. Diplomats who have monitored the Rangoon junta's attempts to ingratiate itself with fellow Association of Southeast Asian Nations members believe few Filipinos will miss the irony. Rizal, executed by a Spanish firing squad in 1896, became a martyr capable of producing almost religious fervour in his admirers. General Than Shwe is head of a military regime that has imprisoned, and is now trying to isolate, Burma's charismatic opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. Like Rizal, Ms Aung San Suu Kyi has spent much of her life outside her country, yet is considered far too dangerous to be allowed to freely organise the opposition movement. She has appealed to Filipinos to remind the general that their country is a 'bastion of democracy' and that 'the Philippines is better off under a democratic system than it was under an authoritarian regime'. General Than Shwe was greeted on arrival in Manila yesterday for his three-day visit by loud protests over Rangoon's human rights record. He said he hoped to have cordial discussions with President Fidel Ramos on boosting relations. Mr Ramos told him the Philippines had a formula to help Burma solve its problems: make peace with your enemies, create jobs and be open to democratic change. The two leaders signed various co-operation agreements. For the general, the wreath-laying is probably less important than the game of golf he is expected to play with Mr Ramos later. Burma became a full member of ASEAN in July, hoping the move would lead to a wave of investment from neighbours. The opposition said Nan Khin Htway Myint, a party member arrested east of Rangoon last week on her way to Union Day celebrations at Ms Aung San Suu Kyi's home, had been jailed for two years.