Senator Imee Marcos seeks a Senate inquiry on the the “real intention” behind the United States’ request to grant some Afghans special immigrant status in the Philippines.
Marcos filed Thursday Resolution 651 calling for the inquiry on the issue even as she also called on newly appointed Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. and National Security Adviser Eduardo Año to shed light on Washington’s request.
She pointed out that nothing has been made public on the Afghans’ status; whether they are legitimate refugees or employees of the U.S. government or American companies.
Marcos, who chairs the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, asked why the U.S. government wanted to keep the Afghan refugees in the Philippines instead of the American mainland or other countries closer to Afghanistan.
The senator noted that during the past year, security and espionage threats have substantially increased because of the escalation of tensions between rival superpowers.
The Presidential Management Staff (PMS) held a “Technical Coordination Meeting” with other government agencies on Wednesday to take up the “proposed temporary housing in the Philippines of Special Immigrant Visa applicants from Afghanistan.”
However, the government agencies called to attend could not thoroughly discuss the matter because the PMS did not provide details about the meeting other than general topic, date, and venue.
Sources privy to the meeting told Marcos that a memorandum of agreement was already in progress.
“There’s a lack of transparency in the present case,” Marcos said, comparing the previous administration’s policy of accepting Afghan refugees when the Taliban took over their homeland in August 2021 following the withdrawal of American troops.
The Philippine Immigration Act of 1940 states that the admission of refugees for religious, political, or racial reasons should serve a humanitarian purpose and not be opposed to the public interest.
“We need to know the real nature of the agreement between the Philippines and the United States and the course of action the executive branch plans to take,” Marcos said