The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday reiterated that it will extend aid to Rohingya refugees, a minority Muslim group from Myanmar, who are now stranded at sea.
However, Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said there are procedures that must be followed before the Philippine government can provide shelter to the boat people.
“Our economic and security interests should also be taken into account,” he said during an interview with ABS-CBN’s news channel.
Malacanang earlier denied a report that the Philippines will turn its back on boat refugees.
Thousands of Rohingya have been left at sea by smugglers after Thailand’s crackdown on illegal migrants.
Like Thailand, neighboring states Malaysia and Indonesia also closed its doors to the so-called boat people, prompting the United Nations to call on Southeast Asian countries to “rescue” the group.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the asylum seekers will not be considered as illegal immigrants and will not be subjected to deportation because they are being persecuted by a State.
Jose said economic migrants differ from political refugees in that the former cannot survive in their homeland because of lack of economic opportunities.
Jose said the Philippines will honor its commitment as a signatory to the UN Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees.