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DOJ: Ukrainian refugees are ‘welcome in the Philippines’

By PhilStar Global

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MANILA, PHILIPPINES (Syndicated Content) – The Philippines will accept Ukrainians fleeing war in their home country, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said.

“Ukrainians fleeing from the war in their country are of course welcome in the Philippines for humanitarian reasons,” he told reporters.

To date, no Ukrainian however has sought asylum in the Philippines, Guevarra added.

“But should there be any, his/her application for refugee status will be evaluated in accordance with our laws and the recently signed executive order,” the DOJ chief continued.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order 163 on February 28, made public on Wednesday, that institutionalizes efforts to protect refugees, stateless persons and asylum seekers to comply with the Philippines’ obligations under international agreements.

Duterte said the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need to integrate policies that seek to protect refugees, stateless persons and asylum seekers, whom he collectively referred to in the order as “persons of concern.”  

“The COVID-19 pandemic has limited the ability of refugees, stateless persons and asylum seekers to cross borders to seek protection, bringing to fore the need to integrate and institutionalize relevant policies and programs of government agencies and ensure that these communities are properly protected and accorded the widest possible exercise of fundamental rights and freedoms,” the order reads.

The EO was signed as the world braces for the impact of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, which has left hundreds dead and thousands displaced, according to recent reports. The United Nations has said as many as four million people may try to leave Ukraine because of Russia’s invasion.

The order also created the Inter-Agency Committee on the Protection of Refugees, Stateless Persons and Asylum Seekers, a body tasked to ensure that relevant services and assistance are given to persons of concern.

Guevarra, as justice secretary, sits as the chairman of the committee while the social welfare secretary serves as vice chairman.

This article is originally published by PhilStar Global.

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