Plea to accept Afghans, security impact still under review – Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr

2023 June 29

REQUEST UNDER REVIEW. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. speaks to the audience at the 50th anniversary celebration of the Philippine Coconut Authority at the Coconut Palace in Pasay City on Thursday (June 29, 2023). The United States’ request for Afghan refugees’ temporary stay in the Philippines and its possible impact on national security are being carefully weighed, Marcos said.

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MANILA – The United States’ request for Afghan refugees’ temporary stay in the Philippines and its possible impact on national security are being carefully weighed, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said Thursday.

In an interview after the launching of the Kanegosyo Center in Parañaque City, Marcos said the Philippine government has to be “conscious” of the potential security issues if he grants the request.

“I was really surprised when I saw some of the news reports saying there’s a deal between the US and the Philippines. We are still looking exactly at how to make it work if we can. We will find a way to make it happen,” Marcos said.

“So, there are many security issues. Of course, we have to be conscious of that. But there are even more difficult legal and logistical issues. Because if the plan, as it runs exactly as it is planned, eh ‘di maganda, wala tayong problema (that’s good. There will be no problem),” he added.

Marcos said he would make sure that the country’s security would not be compromised.

He gave the assurance, as he acknowledged that the case of Afghan refugees is “something different.”

“This is something different. This is something we have not encountered before. They are Afghans who are being resettled primarily in the United States and we are going to be the third country. That is the proposal of the United States. We will continue to study. Let’s see if there is a way we can do it without endangering the security of the Philippines,” Marcos said.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo earlier said US President Joe Biden “briefly raised” the issue with Marcos during the two leaders’ bilateral meeting last May.

The request was first made in October 2022 and is for “pure processing” of special immigration visas for Afghans and their families who formerly worked for the US government and “whose lives are in danger,” Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez said.

Romualdez earlier said the US was proposing that the displaced Afghans be accommodated by batches of around 1,000 to 1,500 individuals per month.

Afghanistan’s capital Kabul fell under the rule of the Taliban in August 2021, prompting a chaotic pullout of American forces days before the US completed its withdrawal after a 20-year war.

Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos (PNA)