Accepting refugees ‘a moral duty’ – CBCP


MORE than its international obligation, the Philippines or any other country has the moral duty to help refugees or the so-called boat people who are fleeing their homelands as a consequence of political conflicts, according to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

Lingayen-Dagupan Archibishop Socrates Villegas, president of the CBCP, on Thursday took the cudgels for thousands of Myanmar’s Rohingya minority and Bangladeshi migrants who have fled their countries to seek refuge or asylum in other countries.

“It is however a saddening fact that some countries in our Southeast Asian region have turned these refugees away, refusing them the comfort of even just a temporary stay.

Ironically, the countries that turn refugees away vie with each other for tourists and investors! In many instances, coast guard and naval patrol vessels tow these boats, brimming over with their load of our hungry, sick and desperate brothers and sisters back to the high seas, there to face the elements, and often, sadly, to perish!,” Villegas, in a pastoral letter, said.

“While it may be true that there is no legal obligation on the part of the Republic of the Philippines or that of any other country to grant asylum to every refugee or displaced person, there is a moral obligation to protect them from the harm they flee from. There is a legal obligation not to forcibly repatriate them. And by all precepts of morality and decency, there is an obligation not to leave them to the mercilessness of the elements on the high seas,” the archbishop added.

There were earlier reports that Thailand and Indonesia were driving away the “boat” people seeking solace on their shores.

A Malaysian high official was even quoted as saying that the refugees should be sent to signatory countries to the United Nations 1951 refugee convention, such as the Philippines and Cambodia.

Malaysia, the official pointed out, is not a signatory to the UN convention.


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    Why not the existing Christian refugees languishing in Thailand’s border with Burma, the Christian Kachin, Chin, Karen refugees who have been brutalized for 60 years by Myanmar? The wealthy Islamic nations can assist the Muslim refugees, Middle Eastern nations need workers, there are more than 50 nations in OIC organization of Islamic nations. But who is helping the Karen, Kachin, Chin refugees ? Why cannot the Philippines as a Catholic nation reach out to the Middle eastern Christian refugees first who have been waiting far longer than Bangladeshi Muslim refugees ? Why is there a double standards when it comes to those who have been languishing far longer in horrible conditions ? What about the convert Christians from Islamic nations who face the death penalty? Is the global media biased against Christian refugees because they are poor, patient and willing to wait silently and not jump the queue?

    • I agree… Pilipinas can do the world a lot better if Pilipinas extends a helping hand to the plight of the Christians in the Middle East. These are Christians who are being hunted down to be killed — the CBCP and gobyerno-Pilipinas should be more visible, more active, more supportive to provide help to the persecuted Christians in Africa and the Middle East and to provide them a new life in Mindanao or Visayas or Luzon if necessary.

  2. Yes I believed it’s a moral duty . But lowering the cost of education specially from catholic run institution is also a moral duty of the CBCP. Because it will give more Filipino an opportunity to achieved higher and better school educations.