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Sunday, April 21, 2024

No decision yet on request to let Afghans stay

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Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez on Thursday said there is still no green light from President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to grant the request made by US government to let Afghan nationals stay in the Philippines while waiting for their Special Immigrant Visa from the US.

Mr. Marcos’ approval will be anchored on the assessment of pros and cons by concerned agencies, including the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the national security cluster, Romualdez added.

Romualdez said Washington made the request in October last year.

However, the Filipino diplomat stressed that until now, there is still no decision from Malacanang, which proves that the government is taking a thorough process before approving it.

“In November, when Vice President Kamala Harris went to the Philippines… the vice president actually asked the President if he had received their request. And I think the President said yes, and I think something to the effect that the President said that he would look into it,” Romualdez said, in an interview with CNN Philippines.

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According to him, this only indicates that the government is not making any haste decision.

Romualdez also said US request was merely a request and not a demand. It was not also a secret, contrary to some claims that are trying to “mislead the people,” he added.

The diplomat felt relief when Senator Imee Marcos, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, called for an inquiry regarding the request so it can “bring out all the concerns that we have.”

“That’s the reason why it’s taken this long. The President is not going to make a decision on this by simply receiving a request,” he said.

“He wanted to thoroughly see what are the implications and what is the role that the Philippines will be playing, and I think that he’s doing it very cautiously, and rightly so,” he added.

Through the Philippine Embassy in the US, Washington asked Manila last year to take in Afghan nationals in the Philippines while they are waiting for a Special Immigrant Visa to be issued by its embassy in the country.

Romualdez expected a total of 50,000 Afghan nationals, which would only be composed of those who worked for the US government and their families, to be staying in the country by batches.

However, the envoy clarified that the expense as well as the personnel to accommodate them would be covered by the US government.

“It’s really they will be the one who will be doing all of this. We’ll really just simply going to provide the area, which will be identified by both the Philippines and the US government as the area where they can process these Afghan citizens,” Romualdez stressed.

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