President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday renewed his vow to accept Rohingya refugees and asked Malaysia and Indonesia to do the same.
Duterte made the pitch as he faced agrarian reform beneficiaries in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, a territory that saw decades of armed conflict linked to poverty and injustice.
“I am prepared. I have communicated my desire na pagka yung mga Rakhine, yung mga Rohingya sa Burma, kung gusto nilang mag-migrate, tatanggapin ko sila,” the President said in a speech in Cotabato City.
He then urged Malaysia and Indonesia, both Muslim-majority nations, to follow his lead.
“Maghati-hati tayo, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines,” Duterte said.
Duterte said the Filipinos could help Rohingya refugees how to make a living.
“Kalaki nitong Mindanao. You plant there. Turuan natin silang mabuhay,” he said.
In April last year, Duterte said that the Philippines was willing to provide sanctuary for Rohingya fleeing what he called "genocide” in Myanmar, a remark that prompted a Myanmar government spokesman to respond that the President had no restraint and knew nothing about their country.
The President then issued a public apology to Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi for saying genocide was taking place in her country and clarified that he was hitting out at European countries which had accused Myanmar of human rights violations, but did little to help the Rohingya.
Duterte has also offered Filipino citizenship to the refugees.
Hundreds of thousands of people, most of them Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority group, have fled from Myanmar into Bangladesh in groups since August 2017 when Rohingya militant attacks on security forces sparked a military crackdown.
Suu Kyi recently argued before The Hague-based International Court of Justice against the case brought by Gambia which accused Myanmar of genocide.
She told the court this month that there was no proof of "genocidal intent" and said the army operation was in response to attacks by Rohingya militants. —LDF, GMA News