The Philippines’ doors are open to Afghan refugees following the fall of Kabul, Malacañang said on Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this assurance as thousands of Afghans fled Afghanistan after the Taliban fighters took control of the capital.
“Since time immemorial po, the Philippines has had jurisprudence even before the Convention on Refugees Welcoming Asylum Seekers,” he said in a Palace press briefing.
Citing the Supreme Court decision in the case of Kookooritchkin vs. Commissioner of Immigration and Deportation, Roque said the Philippines will not hesitate to admit individuals fleeing their homelands because of fear of persecution.
He also cited the Philippines’ history of opening its doors to the refugees including White Russians following the 1917 Revolution and European Jews during the Second World War, among others.
“Asylum seekers are welcome in the Philippines. When the Russian czar was overthrown, we accepted them. In the Second World War, we welcomed Jews into our country. All those who need to seek refuge from being persecuted have a place in the Philippines,” he added partly in Filipino.
President Rodrigo Duterte himself reiterated the Philippines’ willingness to accept refugees in his first-ever speech before the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in September 2020.
“The Philippines continues to honor this humanitarian tradition in accordance with our obligations under the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol,” Duterte said in his speech.
Meanwhile, Roque said he is leaving it to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to comment on whether the Philippines will recognize and open diplomatic channels with Afghanistan.
“We leave that wholly to the DFA,” he said.
According to UN High Commission for Refugees, at least 400,000 Afghans have been forced from their homes in 2021 by fighting and are displaced within their own country.
Many countries are now bracing for a mass influx of refugees as the Taliban reclaimed power in Afghanistan.