The Philippine government on Monday said it is ready to help refugees despite limitations brought about by the massive rehabilitation of areas devastated by Supertyphoon Yolanda.
The statement came after it clarified that the country was ready to receive Rohingya refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh.
The Philippine government reaffirms its commitment to provide humanitarian succor and relief as a signatory to the United Nations (UN) convention relating to the status of refugees and stateless persons, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a statement.
However, Coloma said the government is constrained by resource limitations as it continues to facilitate the reconstruction of the typhoon-hit provinces.
He said the government is closely working with the local office of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNCHR) on how to meaningfully fulfill its commitment to the attainment of the UN’s humanitarian objectives.
Malacanang earlier received flak for saying it would turn away those without travel documents. At the time, Malaysia and other Asian countries turned away the Rohingya. But Justice Secretary Leila de Lima clarified the Philippines was ready to honor its commitments under the 1951 ConÂvenÂtion ReÂlatÂing to the StaÂtus of Refugees and the 1954 ConÂvenÂtion ReÂlatÂing to the StaÂtus of StateÂless Persons by taking in the boat people should they come to our shores.
Coloma said the Philippines had in the past assisted refugees through the Philippine Refugee Processing Center in Morong, Bataan. It was established in 1980 and operated until the mid-’90s through the funding of UNCHR.
The center assisted refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in seeking admission to resettlement nations such as the United States, Canada, Norway and France, he said.