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PH to weigh nat’l interest and int’l pact duties in dealing with refugees – DFA

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Department of Foreign Affairs building. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

THE Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Tuesday the government would balance its commitment to international conventions protecting the rights of refugees with the country’s national interests should the Rohingya migrants reach the Philippines’ shores.

Assistant Secretary Charles Jose, spokesperson for the DFA, said the DFA agreed with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima that the Philippine government must not push away the Rohingya migrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar should they reach the Philippines.

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“We intend to honor our commitment to these international conventions,” Jose said.

The Philippines is one of the state parties to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of the Stateless Persons, which sought to protect refugees and stateless people.

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“In the past, we have demonstrated our capacity and our commitment in the 1970s when we took in boat people from Vietnam and even established a processing centers in Palawan and Bataan,” Jose said.

Hundreds of thousands Vietnamese fled their country in 1979 until the 1990s by boat and ship after the Vietnam war. The Philippines were among the countries that sheltered them in.

“We have to balance these commitments, however, with our interests, economic  and security,” Jose said.

Thousands of Rohingya refugees have fled the persecution by Buddhist extremists in Myanmar and have been roaming in the sea creating a humanitarian crisis in the region. The Philippines’ neighbors Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia had previously turned the boat people away. SFM/AC

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TAGS: Buddhist extremists, Bureau of Immigration, Charles Jose, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Justice, Global Nation, Indonesia, Leila de Lima, Malaysia, migrants, Myanmar, Philippines, refugees, Rohingyas, stranded migrants, Thailand
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