Coloma reiterates gov’t commitment to aid refugees vis-a-vis existing laws

By , on May 18, 2015

MANILA -– Malacanang on Monday stressed the government’s commitment to help refugees in line with existing international rules.

This after the Philippine Daily Inquirer published a report dated May 18, 2015 saying the Philippine government will push back to sea undocumented Asian “boat people” or those who are fleeing from their countries due to political conflict among others.

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the Philippine government “has extended humanitarian assistance to ‘boat people’” and had even established a processing center for Vietnamese travellers in the seventies.”

”What was cited in the Philippine Daily Inquirer report (18 May 2015) was a mere restatement of applicable provisions of our existing laws,” Coloma pointed out.

After the Vietnam War in the 1970s, some 2,000 refugees from that country were allowed by the Philippine government to stay in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, in western Philippines.

The place where they are currently staying was named “Viet Village.”

However, most of the refugees have relocated in the US, Canada and several other countries.

Coloma stressed that “the Philippines, as a state party to relevant instruments, such as the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, concretely manifested its solidarity with the United Nations in providing succor and relief to persons involuntarily displaced from their homelands as a consequence of political conflict.”

“We shall continue to do our share in saving lives under existing and long-standing mechanisms pursuant to our commitments under the Convention,” he added.

A Reuters story said some 6,000 Bangladeshis and Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar were left recently at sea by smugglers.

These are in addition to the thousands who have fled their countries and seek refuge in several Asian countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.