The Philippines was the first country to announce that it will not reject boat refugees who will reach the country’s shores but it offered no material aid during the meeting on the plight of the Rohingya recently held in Bangkok.
However, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday said the country will honor its commitment to provide assistance to refugees.
Charles Jose, Foreign Affairs spokesman, said the Philippines was invited to the Special Meeting on Irregular Migration in the Indian Ocean on May 29 in Bangkok, Thailand.
The meeting aimed to come up with a comprehensive plan of action “to respond on the alarming rise of irregular movements in the Indian Ocean, majority of which are the Rohingyas.” Three action points were “extensively” discussed — immediate response to protect people stranded at sea; comprehensive prevention of irregular migration, smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons and addressing root causes and improving livelihoods in at risk communities.
Jose said there was no “material” commitment from the Philippines such as sending rescue ships or monetary aid.
But he said Manila’s offer to provide temporary shelter to the Rohingya who will end up in Philippine territory will be honered.
“We have this commitment and we intend to honor that in the event that boat people will come to our shores,” Jose said, referring to the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.
The Philippines once hosted boat people from Vietnam.
Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia earlier said they will push back boat refugees but these countries had a change of heart after the Philippines said it will give aid to refugees.