ONE MAJOR issue now being debated nationally is whether or not the Philippines accept refugees from Afghanistan. Apparently, there is strong pressure coming from the United States for the government to do so.
There are those who are showing adherence to the supposed humanitarian efforts to accept people from that war-torn country. But those who oppose the idea are getting vocal in their position, citing as a reason that it may endanger the country’s national security. One of the strongest and most influential persons opposed to the idea is former President Rodrigo R. Duterte FPRRD).
The former President expressed his opposition during his program Gikan sa Masa Para sa Masa over SMNI Channel with former Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque as the interviewer.
According to the former President, while the Philippines is a member of the United Nations and has certain obligations to help fellow member countries, accepting Afghan refugees at this point may be detrimental to the government, considering that there are issues with their religious belief, their ideologies and even in color.
If we are to interpret FPRRD’s words, we may be tempted to believe he was insinuating that our own Philippines, specifically in Mindanao, is still wracked with conflict due to ideology and religion.
We subscribe to the position of the former President. There is no denying the fact that no one can ever fathom what ideology is nurtured by each individual Afghan who will be coming once the government allows them to.
We must remember that any from that country could take advantage of the Philippine benevolence. Meaning, it is possible that some of those who will apply to be among the refugees could be some of that country’s well-camouflaged ideologues and religious fanatics.
Yes, let us not forget that in so many instances, there were reports of Middle East citizens captured or monitored in Mindanao helping the local Muslim extremist rebels. The possibility, therefore, is that those espousing similar beliefs as the ones that are already in Mindanao may be able to enter the Philippines legally.
Duterte admitted in the interview that the Philippines is not new in accepting refugees. He cited the case of the Russians, who were allowed to settle on an island in Leyte. He mentioned the refugees from Vietnam after the annexation of the Southern Vietnamese country by the North.
From our own research and reading of the country’s history we learned that the Philippines has nice experience with the said refugees who successfully assimilated the country’s culture and ways of life.
But the former leader did not only warn President Bongbong Marcos of giving in to the US pressure and risking national security.
Somehow, he intimated that his daughter Vice President Sara Duterte has a similar position to his regarding the acceptance of Afghan refugees. Therefore, it is not unlikely that should the current President agree to allow the refugees from Afghanistan to settle in the Philippines, he is certain that there will be some kind of falling out in their relationship as top leaders of the country.
Frankly, we believe that the former Mindanaoan President knows whereof he speaks. He grew up here and has lived through the times when the conflict in Mindanao almost resulted in the divided Philippines.
And he knows to the teeth the causes espoused by all the leading Mindanao revolutionaries. Therefore, the former leader cannot be faulted if he entertains apprehensions on the possible entries of Afghans whose real intention could only be to “export” their ideologies and fanaticism to a country with its own war against similar ideologues.
It is our take, therefore, that the President, and the Philippine government for that matter, should heed the wisdom of one who has lived through ideological and even religious conflict in our own country.
The President should not succumb to pressures coming from other countries that have their own interests to pursue or protect.
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