Washington wants to send 50,000 Afghan refugees to the Philippines, but the Manila government is against it

Washington wants to send 50,000 Afghan refugees to the Philippines, but the Manila government is against it

Manila (Asia News) — Some Philippine officials and politicians have resisted Washington’s request to temporarily host some 50,000 Afghan refugees before transferring them to the United States. “Although the proposed agreement is humanitarian in nature, it will not include admission or reception of Afghan refugees,” the State Department said.

agreements last October. The Philippine ambassador to Washington and cousin of current President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Jose Manuel “Pep” Romualdez, explained that the application was already submitted in Manila in October last year, who stressed that if the application is accepted, the United States will cover all costs. Speaking to the Senate, he then specified that these were not refugees, but former employees of the US government, who would arrive in groups of about 1,000 people at a time.

There are still 150,000 applications to be screened. With the return of the Taliban to power on August 15, 2021, tens of thousands of Afghans who worked for the US military or media have been evacuated to neighboring Pakistan and other third countries where their applications for US visas are being assessed. . However, the Washington government, after nearly two years, still has to examine some 150,000 applications. Pakistan denied entry to US officials tasked with interviewing refugees by blocking the establishment of resettlement centers.

Without documents, you cannot work or study. Meanwhile, in the past 18 months, the residence permits of asylum seekers who managed to obtain them regularly expired. Without documents, Afghans cannot study or work and are arbitrarily returned to the border or arrested by local authorities, who often extort money from them with threats. Ambassador Romualdez specified that the United States simply requested assistance in processing the visas, which would be issued by a private facility in the Philippines.

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Spyware threats. While the Manila government announced it was evaluating the proposal (a decision should be made in mid-July), Senator Amy Marcos, the president’s sister and chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, launched an investigation into the agreement expressing suspicions that some of the refugees could act as spies for the Americans: the senator said in a hearing Parliamentarian: “In the past year, espionage and security threats have increased dramatically due to the sharp escalation of tensions between the rival superpowers.” The United States no longer wants to host these foreigners inside the American territory worry us? They argue that the security risk will be very low, that only highly controlled groups will arrive and that the special visa for immigrants is guaranteed, and yet they don’t want them,” Marcos continued.

There are fears of “sleeping terrorist cells”. The National Bureau of Investigation and the National Intelligence Coordination Agency announced that they feared the possibility of activating “sleeper cells” of terrorists and even the Vice President of the Philippines, Sara Duterte, daughter of former President Rodrigo, opposed Washington’s request, saying the proposal could undermine the country’s sovereignty: “It seems that the verification process will be carried out from Before the U.S. Therefore, this interfered with our exclusive determination of who can enter our country.”

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