DND chief sees no security threat in hosting Rohingya refugees

By Priam Nepomuceno

December 27, 2019, 10:13 am

<p>Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana <em>(File photo)</em></p>

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (File photo)

MANILA -- Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana does not see any security threat should the Philippines continue with its offer to host Rohingya refugees.

Preventing a humanitarian crisis is the goal of the Philippines in declaring its intentions to accept the refugees, Lorenzana said Thursday.

"When one offers his territory to refugees out of humanitarian motive, I believe concern for security is temporarily set aside," Lorenzana said.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday reiterated his willingness to accept Rohingya refugees fleeing war and persecution in Myanmar.

The Rohingya, often described as "the world's most persecuted minority", are an ethnic group, majority of whom are Muslim, who have lived for centuries in Myanmar. Currently, there are about 1.1 million Rohingyas in the Southeast Asian country.

"Averting a humanitarian crisis is front and foremost. Furthermore, I don’t think the Rohingyas will reciprocate our kindness with bad behavior," Lorenzana said.

The Philippines’ open-door policy to refugees can be traced back to 1923 when the country took in the first wave of White Russians fleeing from the Socialist Revolution, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The country also admitted Jewish refugees in 1934, Spanish Republicans in 1939, Chinese refugees in 1940, White Russians in 1949, Vietnamese “boat people” in 1975, Iranian refugees in 1979, Indo-Chinese refugees in 1980, and East Timor refugees in 2000. (PNA)