The Philippines continues to study the proposal of the United States to make the country a transit area for Afghan nationals being resettled in the US and other areas, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr said on Thursday.
The President clarified both sides have not reached a deal regarding the Afghans. He made the statement when asked by reporters in an interview during a Kanegosyo Center launch whether he would accept the US’ request to allow Afghan citizens in the country.
“That is the proposal of the United States. We continue to study it. Let’s see if there’s a way we can do it without endangering security of the Philippines,” Marcos told reporters, saying it would be possible that both sides won’t find a way to make it happen.
“We’ll see if we can actually manage it and make sure that if things start to go not as planned, ano ‘yung mga puwede nating gawin,” Marcos said.
The President acknowledged multiple issues involved such as security, legal and logistics.
Although the Philippines has a long tradition of taking in refugees like what it did during World War II, Marcos said the case of the Afghan nationals involved is different.
“These are not refugees. They are an entirely different class of person. They are Afghan nationals who are being settled by the United States in the United States and other places. We are only going to be a transition area,” Marcos said.
“Ito kasi ang mga Afghan na tumulong sa mga Amerikano noong giyera. Tapos biglang umalis ang mga Amerikano, naiwan ito. Ang katotohanan, pinapatay na nila sila, ng kalaban. Kaya’t ‘yun, inaalalayan nila ‘yung mga ano. Pero hindi na sila refugee. It is something different. It is not something that we’ve encountered before.”
Citing American officials, Marcos said those who will use the Philippines as transit area won’t exceed 1,000 individuals in case the request is granted.
Some groups and lawmakers have expressed concern on the proposal, saying that the Afghan nationals might threaten the country’s national security.