Laudable decision

The decision of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to allow Rohingya refugees to come to the Philippines is laudable and should be supported by everyone, especially policy-makers. Also it should be done with utmost dispatch. The Rohingyas need help now – not later.

The MILF supports the decision. We salute the President for this decision. We are behind you, Mr. President!

In effect, this decision reversed the earlier decision of his Foreign Affairs secretary made in November 2017 in voting against a draft UN resolution to help the Rohingya. Secretary Peter Cayetano said this could only worsen the situation.

What we cannot understand is why Buddhist monks take active part in the killings in Myanmar against the Rohingya Muslims. We know that the principle of non-violence is central to Buddhist teachings. For instance, in Sri Lanka many Buddhist monks were accused of stirring up hostility towards other faiths and ethnic minorities.

Around 700,000 so far have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh and are housed in make-shift shelters mostly provided by the United Nations. And more are fleeing. Many died while cruising the rough seas in jampacked unseaworthy vessels.

The Rohingyas, to reiterate, are persecuted and butchered in their Rakhine State. There is no tint of doubt about this. It is a genocide and Myanmar military leaders should be brought to trial for war crimes. Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s leader and a Nobel Prize peace awardee, should return the award for failing or for not lifting serious efforts in stopping the genocide. She has no moral clout to stay in power and keep the award.

President Duterte described Rohingya as victims of “genocide” in Myanmar. In a speech in Malacañang, Mr. Duterte chided the United Nations for failing to solve the Rohingya crisis.

“That is really genocide, if I may [say] so,” he said, adding he would welcome the Rohingya to the country. “Me? We? I’m willing to accept refugees. Rohingyas, yes, I will,” he said.

In the 1980s, the Philippines also opened its doors to refugees of wars, like the Vietnamese and the Cambodians. It is as if it is a tradition already.

However, he also asked Europe to accept them as well.