No backlash on ties if PH declines US request on Afghans – envoy
MANILA, Philippines — Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez is seeing no consequence on the country’s relations with America if the Philippines declines its ally’s request for the accommodation of 50,000 Afghans.
In an interview on Wednesday, Romualdez was asked if Manila-Washington ties will be affected if the Philippines do not grant such a request of the US.
“Not at all,” he replied over ANC. “There are many more things that we need to make with the US. There is mutual respect, in my view, between the US and the Philippines, especially now [that] they know that the Philippines is a sovereign nation and that we have our own laws, we have things that we want.”
He, however, pointed out that sheltering the distressed Afghans is the “morally right thing to do.”
According to Romualdez, humanitarian acts such as this help boost the nation’s relationship with foreign countries, citing as an example former President Manuel Quezon’s decision to house more than 1,000 Jewish refugees in the 1930s.
“At the end of the day, this is purely humanitarian in nature. They are really distressed Afghan residents. We’ve had history of this type of humanitarian act in the past. I see the goodwill that it creates, if we help other countries, especially those in distress and need our help,” he stressed.
But the ambassador likewise defended the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), emphasizing that it is equally necessary to critically examine the Afghans before they are allowed to enter the Philippines as it is part of the country’s immigration laws.
He previously clarified that the US government’s request is for the Philippines to accommodate its former employees and their families “whose lives are in danger” in Afghanistan.
“DFA wants to vet this out or bring this out to all different security agencies to be able to get their inputs before having an announcement, [but] now that it’s out in the open, all the more that we will be able to vet this even more,” Romualdez added.
The Palace, for its part, said it is still evaluating the US request. Romualdez said the Philippine government should be able to make a decision on the matter by mid-July.