Take in Afghans or not? PH has to decide by July 15, says envoy
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government should decide by July 15 whether or not to grant the request of the United States (US) to temporarily house people “whose lives are in danger” in Afghanistan.
Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez stressed these Afghans are not refugees but former employees of the US government in the middle eastern country.
“I would think that before the middle of July, we should be able to make a decision and I think the memorandum for the President’s approval or disapproval, whichever the case may be, will be sent to Malacañang as probably as late as July 15. I’m just guessing but that’s more or less what we’re tracking right now from Washington D.C.,” Romualdez told ANC’s Headstart program on Wednesday.
He was apparently referring to a memorandum of agreement between the US and Manila in connection with Washington’s plea.
Before sending the memorandum to Malacañang, Romualdez repeated his suggestion that this should first pass through the Senate committee on foreign relations “so that the Philippine Senate would be aware of exactly what this memorandum is all about.”
The panel is being chaired by the President’s sister, Senator Imee Marcos, who initiated an inquiry into the supposedly discreet plan to grant such a request of the US.
The request was first relayed to the Philippine embassy in the US last October, and later relayed to the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Just last May, this request was again mentioned by US President Joe Biden to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. during the latter’s official visit to the US.
Though the request for special immigration visas for these Afghans varies from 50,000 to 60,000, Romualdez said these will not all be processed in the Philippines.
He also said that the Philippines has the final say on the number of Afghans it is willing to temporarily shelter while their visas are being processed.
Romualdez, however, could not say yet how many Afghans the Philippines can accommodate.
“No, there is no number yet,” he said.