Marcos says US request to take in migrants from Afghanistan ‘still under review’

Afghan families waiting at Kabul airport while US forces having a watch on them on August 16, 2021, a day after fall of Kabul to the Taliban.

Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said Thursday the United States’ request for his country to take in refugees from Afghanistan temporarily is still being carefully assessed due to the possible security impact.

In an interview with the Philippine News Agency, Marcos said his government has to be “conscious” of the potential security issues if he agrees to Washington’s request.

“I was really surprised when I saw some of the news reports saying there’s a deal between the US and the Philippines. We are still looking exactly at how to make it work if we can. We will find a way to make it happen,” Marcos said.

“So, there are many security issues. Of course, we have to be conscious of that. But there are even more difficult legal and logistical issues. Because if the plan, as it runs exactly as it is planned, eh ‘di maganda, wala tayong problema (that’s good. There will be no problem),” he added.

Marcos said he would make sure that the country’s security would not be compromised but said the case is “something different.”

“This is something different. This is something we have not encountered before. They are Afghans who are being resettled primarily in the United States and we are going to be the third country. That is the proposal of the United States. We will continue to study. Let’s see if there is a way we can do it without endangering the security of the Philippines,” Marcos said.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo earlier said US President Joe Biden “briefly raised” the issue with Marcos during the two leaders’ bilateral meeting last May.

The request was first made in October 2022 and is for “pure processing” of special immigration visas for people from Afghanistan, and their families, who formerly worked for the US government and “whose lives are in danger,” Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez said.

Romualdez earlier said the US proposed that the refugees be accommodated in groups of around 1,000 to 1,500 individuals per month.