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As refugees’ haven, PH wrong to sell honor for $150M

12:00 AM March 23, 2016

The news item titled “Australia asks PH, others to take in asylum seekers” stated that “Australia is in talks with the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia, among six nations to resettle asylum seekers held in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Island nation of Nauru, the Sydney Morning Herald reports Saturday” (Second Front Page, 2/21/16).

First, why is Australia asking other nations, including the Philippines, to take in their unwanted asylum-seekers? Geography will show that we are quite distant from Australia.

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Second—and this is the profound insult—the article further stated that “Australia had offered $150 million spread over five years in exchange for permanent relocation of some refugees.” These are their unwanted refugees.

We offered asylum to Jews unwanted by other countries and driven out of Europe, and for this Israel, in gratefulness, forever honors us.

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During the Korean war, we sent the Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea, our combat battalion contribution to the UN Forces in Korea, and we are now honored by this country.

At the height of the Vietnamese boat people crisis we, in accordance with a UN mandate, hosted altogether more than 300,000 Vietnamese refugees, and we have been given due appreciation.

The Philippines is among the most respected countries in the world. If we are now obligated by another UN mandate to accept refugees from Papua New Guinea and Nauru, and the rational is in our best interest and serves our duties to humanity, then we must accept the burden with pride.

But Canada dumped garbage unto our shores; we must not allow Australia to buy our honor for $150 million.

—JOSE M. ZALDARRIAGA, retired ambassador

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TAGS: asylum, Australia, Refugees
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