Solon backs request for PH to host Afghan refugees

By Zaldy De Layola

June 13, 2023, 5:03 pm

<p>Cagayan de Oro City 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez<em> (File photo)</em></p>

Cagayan de Oro City 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (File photo)

MANILA – The Philippines, as a compassionate nation with caring people, will always receive refugees for humanitarian reasons, a lawmaker said Tuesday.

“We are a compassionate nation. We are caring people who will always receive refugees for humanitarian reasons. We can limit the number, but let us host Afghans fleeing the war in their country and their cruel Taliban leaders,” Cagayan de Oro City 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said, expressing support for the US’s request for the Philippines to host Afghan refugees for at least two weeks while their visas are being processed.

“There are still some refugee centers in the country that could process and temporarily shelter displaced Afghans,” Rodriguez said.

The plan, if approved by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., may not be new, he said, recalling that in September 2021, then-foreign affairs secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. disclosed that the Philippines had taken in Afghan refugee women and children after the fall of Afghanistan to Taliban.

“We stay steady where others waver: tonight, we welcome Afghan nations, including women and kids seeking refuge. Our doors are open to those fleeing conflict, persecution, sexual abuse, and death,” Rodriguez quoted Locsin as saying then.

Rodriguez said during the time of President Marcos’ father, President Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr., the Philippines accepted thousands of Vietnamese “boat people” after South Vietnam fell to North Vietnamese forces in 1975.

“I am sure President Bongbong Marcos would follow the example and good deeds of his father,” he said.

Rodriguez also recalled that even during the administration of President Manuel Quezon, the country hosted more than a thousand Jewish refugees who escaped Nazi persecution and the Holocaust.

“I believe Israel is eternally thankful to our country for that humanitarian gesture,” he proudly said, adding that there have been a few other instances in the past when the country served as a temporary home to asylum seekers.

“I am sure that refugees would want to go back to their home countries to join their loved ones and their compatriots when the situation normalizes. That is also the dream of every Filipino when he settles in a foreign land as a worker or a temporary resident,” Rodriguez said. (PNA)