The Philippines, through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), signed a legal framework program that will allow Rohingya refugees to enter the country and receive their tertiary education here.
Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin Jr. signed last Wednesday, June 22, the Legal Framework for the Complementary Pathways (CPath) Program for Rohingyas, which aims to provide an educational pathway to eligible beneficiaries and engage relevant government agencies and private institutions to promote durable solutions to help beneficiaries achieve self-reliance.
“This initiative concretizes the country’s pledge at the first Global Refugee Forum in 2019 to explore complementary pathways for admitting refugees and President Rodrigo Duterte’s emphasis on protection for those fleeing for safety,” Locsin said in a statement.
He congratulated the Department of Justice (DOJ) for ushering in the program and getting it off the ground.
Locsin extended his gratitude to the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) “for its support for the Philippine government in this initiative and the area of protection of persons of concern in general, including in the Inter-Agency Steering Committee (IASC) on refugees, statelessness and persons of concern and the Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM).”
The Philippines is a state party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol and is also the first country in Southeast Asia to have acceded to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness which entered into force on Friday, June 24.
The DFA said that joining the CPath program “is another testament to the country’s leadership in humanitarian and statelessness efforts.”
In November 2017, the country launched the National Action Plan to End Statelessness, containing “concrete action points” the government will implement until 2024.
The national action plan bolstered the UNHCR’s 10-year campaign to end statelessness through the Global Action Plan to End Statelessness, the DFA said.
The country has shown its commitment “to advance the protection of persons of concern” by adopting the Foundling Recognition and Protection Act and President Duterte’s signing of Executive Order No. 163 in February, which institutionalizes the access to protection services in the Philippines for refugees, stateless persons and asylum seekers.
The Rohingya people are a stateless Indo-Aryan ethnic group from Rakhine State, Myanmar, the same country that denied them citizenship because they are seen as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
They have no legal identity or citizenship, and Rohingya children suffer from violence, displacement, and restrictions on freedom of movement in Myanmar.
Some have already sought refuge in Bangladesh, while other countries like Indonesia have sent help.