The Daily Manila Shimbun


Duterte says Philippines open to accept refugees affected by US travel ban  

January 30, 2017

President Rodrigo Duterte said he respects US President Donald Trump's policy against refugees and temporarily barring citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries from enteringAmerica.

But Duterte said in a press conference early Monday "in the name of humanity," the Philippines would consider accepting refugees who would be affected by the US travel ban.

"Yes. In the name of humanity and God, we'll have to make some adjustments."

"If there is a compelling reason for us to offer sanctuary, I'm one of those who is okay, if they have nothing to go for. So if they cannot go anywhere, anymore, except to face death by hunger, including the Rohingya in Myanmar, the Muslims there, they are driven out, we will consider it," Duterte said.

"You know, Trump said, 'I will not interfere in the affairs of other countries.' Now, if he has policies to protect his country, I will understand," he said, recalling that during his phone conversation with Trump late last year, the US leader told him he would not interfere in the Philippine drug war.

Trump even told Duterte that he has been doing right on his campaign against illegal drugs and that the US was also facing such serious problem.

"So, out of respect for the statement, I can only answer him in the manner that he has told me. I won't meddle," Duterte said.

He advised undocumented Filipinos in the US to "better be on the right track."

"If you are not allowed to stay there where you are staying, get out. Because if you are caught and deported, I will not lift a finger. You know that it is a violation of the law," Duterte said. But he said there has to be concurrence of Congress.

He admitted these refugees could be a "potential problem" for the Philippines, "but it's a matter of handling them."

He recalled how the Philippine government handled the Vietnamese refugees, who were provided sanctuary, and some of them are Filipinos.

"At that time, it was as a matter of human spirit that would give us the right direction," he added.

Trump has issued an executive order closing America's borders to refugees and temporarily suspending immigration from seven Muslim countries, such as Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya,Somalia and Yemen.

The US leader said he wants to ensure that his country is not admitting individuals who are the very threats of its soldiers fighting overseas. Celerina Monte/DMS