MANILA – President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday said the Philippines is open to taking in refugees from Syria, even as the United States and several countries neighboring the war torn country are being criticized for their lackluster response to the growing crisis.
In a roundtable discussion with Inquirer journalists and editors, President Aquino noted the country’s history of accepting migrants and refugees from conflict-plagued countries.
“Mayron tayong Rohingya, Uighur. The United Nations Commission on Human Rights approached us, in the case of the Uighur, [to make the Philippines] as a transit point,” Aquino said.
“Another case in point is the Vietnamese refugees. We have proven as a country that we are ready to assist.”
President Aquino also recalled how the Philippines under President Manuel L. Quezon was hailed around the world for taking in Jewish refugees at the height of World War II.
“The plan was to have more, but we got occupied ourselves,” he said.
He added that the Philippines is a signatory to various conventions on refugees.
However, the President also noted that the resources of the country must be taken into consideration in accepting the refugees.
“The culture is there, but we want to make sure that we manage it properly, that we don’t take more than we can handle. A vast majority of our people are still living in poverty. We would like to take our resources to better our people. The question siguro (maybe) is what is fair?” he said.