June 30, 2023
MANILA — President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said on Thursday that the government is still exploring options for housing Afghans displaced by their country’s turmoil, disputing speculations of an agreement with the US.
According to Marcos, the Philippines has a long history of accepting refugees, but the US’s request for the Philippines to temporarily take in Afghan people is unprecedented.
“There are many issues involved in that question. That is why 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. Will find a way to make it happen,” said Marcos during an ambush interview in Parañaque City.
Marcos reiterated that the Afghan nationals are not refugees but must be resettled in the US. The Philippines will only serve as the transition area.
“This is something different; this is something we have not encountered before,” said Marcos.
The President admitted that being a transition area may pose security issues and legal and logistical problems.
“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,” said Marcos.
The Palace has until July 15 to decide whether to house these Afghan officials, said Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez.