By Wilnard Bacelonia

NAT’L REFUGEE DAY. Department of Justice Chief State Counsel and Refugees and Stateless Persons Protection Unit head Dennis Arvin Chan, Presidential Communications Office Assistant Secretary Evangeline De Leon, Judge Maria Josefina San Juan-Torres of Supreme Court’s Special Committee on the Facilitated Naturalization for Refugees and Stateless Persons, DOJ Undersecretary Raul Vasquez, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees National Office head Maria Ermina Gallardo, and De La Salle Brothers, Inc. Social Action Unit deputy director Andyo Abusmas (from left) launch the country’s first commemoration of National Refugee day in a kickoff ceremony at the DOJ Justice Hall on Tuesday (June 4, 2024). Through the commemoration of National Refugee Day, the Philippines assures that it is taking great strides towards an active role in upholding the rights and welfare of refugees. (PNA photo by Wilnard Bacelonia)

MANILA – Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla on Tuesday assured that the Philippines is “taking great strides towards an active role” in upholding the rights and welfare of refugees.

Remulla made the assurance in a statement read by DOJ Undersecretary Raul Vasquez in Manila, ahead of the official launch of the country’s inaugural National Refugee Day on June 20.

“Through the very first commemoration of National Refugee Day, the Philippines sends a strong message of our continuing commitment for a long humanitarian legacy of opening our doors and providing support to people who have crossed international borders to seek safety and protection,” Remulla said.

Under Proclamation No. 265 series of 2023 issued by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., June 20 of every year is National Refugee Day in the Philippines to honor refugees and stateless individuals.

To further affirm the country’s commitment, the Refugees and Stateless Persons Protection Unit (RSPPU) was created under the DOJ, which was granted its own budget under the 2024 General Appropriations Act.

“Resources which help in our efforts will be of service, and to further improve our capacity in order to help those seeking refuge in the Philippines, and which we hope, will continue for many years to come, given the growing number of forcibly displaced all over the world,” DOJ-RPSU head Chief State Counsel Dennis Arvin Chan said.

“As Chief State Counsel and head of the DOJ-RSPPU, I hope that the National Refugee Day would pave the way for stronger, more nurturing, inclusive and sustainable communities here in the country,” he added.

National Refugee Day 2024 kicks off with the first National Refugee Forum on June 20, discussing the experiences of the displaced and how to help them.

There would also be the 2nd Refugee Film Festival and Short Film Competition at De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde and “Hope Away from Home” traveling exhibit of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees at the Supreme Court, both in Manila, on June 20 to 22. (PNA)