The Catholic Church in the Philippines has expressed willingness to help refugees from other countries who will be accepted by the Philippine government.
“Our Church is a mother who accepts and welcomes all regardless of creed, color of the skin and customs,” said Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga, vice chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People.
In an interview over Church-run Radio Veritas 846, the prelate said the Catholic Church “fulfills what our Lord Jesus says ‘I am a stranger and you welcome me.’”
Bishop Santos said parochial schools are also ready to offer scholarship programs for young refugees.
“When our Philippine government processes and receives refugees, the Church through the [Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People] accommodates them and attends to their pastoral and spirit needs,” he said.
“With our parochial schools, we open and offer scholarship grants,” said the bishop, adding that the Church “accompanies them for dignified life and promotes their safe (and) secured stay.”
Bishop Santos assured that the Catholic bishops will also send help to victims of war and conflict from the collections in various dioceses across the country.
In February, President Rodrigo Duterte issued an executive order institutionalizing access to protection services for refugees, stateless persons, and asylum seekers.
The order assures refugees the provision of access to socioeconomic services, social security benefits, gainful employment and humane working conditions, education, participation in judicial and administrative citizenship proceedings, legal assistance and access to courts, and freedom of religion.”
The Philippines is one of the few countries in the region to have acceded to the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 protocol that ensures help to displaced and stateless persons.