Duterte offers refugees a home in the Philippines
“Send them to us. We will accept them,” the president says at a time many Western nations are closing their borders.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has offered to take in the world’s refugees at a time many western countries are closing their borders to those who are displaced.
An estimated 1.8 million people became refugees in 2015 as the world witnessed a 300 percent increase since 2005 in the number of people forcibly displaced.
Duterte told Al Jazeera that his decision to welcome refugees into the Philippines, a country of 100 million where poverty is widespread, is due to western countries’ failure to help them.
“I say send them to us. We will accept them. We will accept them all. They are human beings,” he told Al Jazeera’s 101 East in a rare, behind-the-scenes look at his presidency.
Without elaborating how the country would deal with the arrival of refugees, he added: “They can always come here. I will welcome them until we are filled to the brim.”
Duterte said that the western nations “seem to be very accommodating on human rights but suddenly change course and say no”.
“You stay there. We will build a wall [and put up] barbed wire. And now the hypocrite is there, staring at us eyeball to eyeball.”
Duterte has drawn international condemnation for his crackdown on drugs, with the European Union and the United States accusing him of violating human rights by using death squads to kill suspected drug dealers and users.
More than 3,680 people have been killed by police and unidentified attackers in the Philippines since June 30, when Duterte took office.
READ MORE: More than 240 refugees die in Mediterranean this week
But he is unapologetic for his tough stance.
“I am pissed off by so many calls and people telling me I ‘should not put so many people to death’,” he said.
“If I look like a bad boy to them, I don’t really give a s***. Who are they to me? They are nothing.”
According to US data, the Philippines is expected to receive a total of $188m in US aid in 2017. In 2015, the country received $236m in US aid.
Since he was elected in a landslide victory, Duterte has given the Philippine military and police increased powers.
He is also spending hundreds of millions of dollars fighting a war in the country’s south against the armed group Abu Sayyaf.
From the 101 East documentary Rodrigo Duterte: The President’s Report Card. Watch the full film here