A Catholic bishop has called on President Rodrigo Duterte to prove his sincerity as regards his offer to help and accept Rohingya Muslim refugees.
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo warned that Duterte’s remark could only be a “publicity stunt.”
“If it’s a charity it should be unconditional, not tied up to what others should do. We have to be careful because it may just be another publicity stunt of Duterte,” Pabillo said in a news entry posted on the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) website.
Pabillo said out that if Duterte was really concerned about the refugees, he should “exert his influence on Myanmar to be accountable to its army’s crackdown on the Rohingya.”
“But of course he will not do that. Accountability is not his cup of tea,” Pabillo said.
Pabillo added that Duterte must tell other member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to “pressure” Myanmar to act on the crisis.
Duterte has said he was willing to accept Rohingya Muslim refugees fleeing “genocide” in Myanmar.
The United Nations and rights groups say some 700,000 people, most of them Rohingya, have fled from Myanmar into Bangladesh since August last year when Rohingya militant attacks on the security forces sparked a military crackdown.
The United Nations and several Western countries have said the Myanmar action constitutes ethnic cleansing, which Myanmar denies. It said its security forces have been conducting legitimate operations against “terrorists.”
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque has said that the Philippines had facilities that could accommodate refugees, citing a processing center in Bataan.
Roque added that the Philippine government really had an “open-door policy” for refugees.
In 1975, the Philippine government accommodated thousands of Vietnamese refugees who fled their country after the Vietnam War ended. The facility Roque cited, the Philippine Refugee Processing Center (PRPC), hosted many of them. —NB, GMA News