Lorenzana raises possible security concern following entry of Afghan refugees into PH

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 16, 2021) — The country's decision to accept Afghan refugees may become a source of concern if terrorists will be able to blend in, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Thursday.

He added that the Defense department had no hand in the decision to accept Afghan refugees and asylum seekers.

That is the reason why he is hoping that the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Immigration Bureau, and the police will have a thorough screening of refugees who will be allowed to enter the Philippines.

"It is concerning situation kung kasama ng refugees ang, kung may terrorist na kasama. So yan ang dapat nating manmanan. Siguro yung processing pa lang ng refugees ay matindi na para masala natin yung mga taong hindi kailangang pumunta dito," Lorenzana said during a virtual press conference.

[Translation: It is a concerning situation if there are terrorists posing as refugees. So that's what we have to monitor. The processing of refugees should be stringent so we can screen out those people who should not seek admission.]

Last week, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin said the country has already started taking in Afghan refugees.

As a policy, the Philippines would accept refugees and asylum seekers from Afghanistan through requests from other governments.

In case an Afghan terrorist manages to enter the country, Lorenzana said it may take some time before he or she may cause trouble.

"Tingin ko naman kung papasok dito ang Afghan, hindi naman sila makakapag-gala agad e. Siguro ang gagawin niyan ay kumontak ng local terrorist. But it will take time," the defense secretary said.

[Translation: I think if Afghans enter the country, they won't be able to roam right away. Maybe that person will first contact a local terrorist. But it will take time.]

During his visit to Washington DC last week, Lorenzana said American defense officials informed him that they had around 5,000 prisoners in Afghanistan before they left.

But the Taliban released them all.

He said there is no Filipino among the prisoners but there could be Malaysians and Indonesians.

It is unclear as to why American soldiers imprisoned around 5,000 individuals in Afghanistan.