US proposal for Afghans to enter PH sparks fear of sleeper threats impacting Mindanao conflicts | Inquirer News

US proposal for Afghans to enter PH sparks fear of sleeper threats impacting Mindanao conflicts

By: - Reporter / @zacariansINQ
/ 04:12 PM June 16, 2023

SEC. GIBO ATTENDS SENATE HEARING: Defense Sec. Gilberto "Gibo" Teodoro in a hearing of the Committee on Foreign Relations Friday, June 16, 2023, weighs in on discussions about the proposed hosting of Afghan nationals by the Philippines. Teodoro said he will defer to the legal opinion of the Department of Justice, noting the risks involved in hosting the Afghans awaiting resettlement in the United States. (Bibo Nueva España/Senate PRIB)

WEIGHING PRESENCE OF AFGHAN “SLEEPERS” Defense Secretary Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro attends a hearing of the Senate committee on foreign relations on Friday, June 16, 2023, where government officials weighed in the proposed hosting of Afghans by the Philippines.  (Bibo Nueva España/Senate PRIB)

MANILA, Philippines —  Government agencies expressed concern about national security if the Philippines accepts the US proposal to bring Afghans who fought against the Taliban.

Officials that have different positions on the matter are from the Department of National Defense (DND), National Security Council (NSC), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (Nica).


They made their views known during a hearing conducted by Senate committee on foreign relations.


NBI Director Medardo de Lemos expressed his concern over the threat posed to national security by Al Qaeda sympathizers in Mindanao.

Nica Director Ricardo de Leon said this situation could be used as propaganda.

“Since our apprehension is about the ‘sleepers,’ they can always be activated and it will have an impact as far as (in) some activities in the South,” said De Leon.

For Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr., the issue is the Philippines’ reviewing process for arriving Afghans.

He explained, “there definitely will be some gaps” in so far as the Afghans’ backgrounds are concerned.

He said that the country does not have the means to conduct rigorous background checks on each Afghan.


“If the category would be former US government employees, then the job would be easier, because they would have been vetted in the first place before they were hired, admittedly,” Teodoro went on.

“Problems (are) with their family members who were not vetted. That is one of the problems that we want to go through. What kind of vetting did they have to go through in the first place?” the defense secretary wondered.

“What we are certain of is that when they arrive in the country, we can take precautions to what they may do,” he suggested.

However, Teodoro also believes the risk of having sleepers or infiltrators entering the country is remote.

“Depending on the arrangements made for their stay here, the number of those that will be agreed upon, the risk is low,” he calculated.

National Commission of Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) Secretary Guiling Mamondiong is not worried about the possible infiltration of sleepers among Afghans.

He is looking at the threat that foreigners might become targets by local armed groups.

“If their mobility will not be limited, or even if it will be limited, these people from the south or these sympathizers of the ISIS-inspired group can easily travel to Luzon,” said Mamondiong.

“As far as the infiltration of the Taliban-inspired from Afghanistan, that is very slim. The security concern is of those within the Philippines already, like the sympathizers of these leftist groups,” he pointed out.


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TAGS: Afghans, United States

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