Duterte willing to take in refugees until Philippines is 'filled to the brim'
President Rodrigo Duterte said the Philippines is ready to take in refugees “until the country is filled to the brim.”
The tough-talking president told Al Jazeera’s “101 East” to be aired Thursday that his critics from the west could learn from the Philippines in this aspect.
Duterte had called the European Union and the United States hypocrites in a speech last September after concerns on killings and rights violations in his war on drugs.
“Kayong US, EU you can call me anything. But I was never into or I am never into hypocrisy like you… Close your doors, it’s wintertime, there are migrants escaping from the Middle East. You allow them to rot and then you are worried about the death of about 1,000, 2,000, 3,000?”
He said refugees could always come to the Philippines.
“They can always come here, and I will even welcome them until we are filled to the brim… I say send them to us,” he said.
“We will accept them. They are human beings.”
The International Organization for Migration recorded over 1.2 million first-time asylum claims in the EU by the end of 2015. Higher numbers of asylum claims were from war-torn countries of Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. The EU granted protection status to 333,350 asylum seekers last year.
Over 5,000 refugees lost their lives in the dangerous journey to escape conflict, while tens of thousands were exploited by human traffickers, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said during the International Migrants Day on December last year.
Ban said that “2015 will be remembered as a year of human suffering and migrant tragedies.”
“[M]illions have been made into scapegoats and become the targets of xenophobic policies and alarmist rhetoric,” he said.
Although Duterte is often compared to Trump, the Philippine leader's stand is a far cry from the incoming US president.
The US is seen to go down hard on immigrants with Trump's inward-looking policies. Trump’s team is mulling a Muslim registry, deportation of three million illegal immigrants and ban on entry of migrants from countries with a proven history of terrorism against the United States.
Historically, the Philippines became a refuge to over 1,300 Jews escaping the Holocaust between 1935 and 1941.
The country also offered refuge to Vietnamese boat people after the Vietnam War ended in the 1970s.