Romualdez: US to shoulder costs, processing of its Afghan personnel to be housed in PH

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 15) — Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel "Babe" Romualdez clarified that the Philippine government will not spend anything if it agrees to assist Washington in the processing of American visas of its former Afghan employees fleeing the Taliban.

“The United States will cover all the costs,” Romualdez told CNN Philippines’ The Source on Thursday, emphasizing that Manila will only serve as a location for US government personnel to process the special immigration visas for the Afghans.

On Tuesday, Romualdez already clarified that Washington was only asking for assistance in the processing of visas. This was after Senate Minority Leader Koko Pimentel and Senator Imee Marcos questioned the alleged request of the US for the Philippines to take in Afghan refugees. 

“All are destined to proceed to the US after processing,” the envoy said.

Romualdez said the request was made back in October 2022 and has gone through months of study.

Aside from being an ally of the US, the Philippines is a logical location for this because Washington’s embassy in Manila has enough employees that can help in the issuance of visas, he noted.

RELATED: Marcos to be given recommendation on request for PH to take in former Afghan employees of US – envoy

Romualdez said there is still no definite number as to how many will arrive in the Philippines if the government allows it, but based on information they have, around 50,000 Afghans including their families will be transferred to the US.

For the processing of visas, the Afghan nationals will come in batches, he noted.

The envoy also welcomed the investigation to be conducted by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations headed by Marcos.

The inquiry will be held on Friday to look into the request "due to the significance and urgency of the matter."

In a statement, US Embassy acting spokesperson Stephen Dove said they are aware of the Senate probe, but declined to comment "on ongoing diplomatic discussions."

"The Biden administration remains committed to the thousands of brave Afghans who stood side-by-side with the United States over the course of the past two decades," Dove said.