City of San Fernando Mayor Edwin Santiago (2nd L) and Vice Mayor Jaime Lazatin (2nd R), sign the commitment for the Cities #WithRefugees Campaign of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). With them are officials from the Department of Justice, UNHCR, and division heads from the city government. (Rina B. Canque/ PIA 3)
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, Sept. 12 (PIA) -- The city government of San Fernando has joined cities and municipalities in support to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Cities #WithRefugees Campaign.
UNHCR Protection Associate Ma. Louella Gamboa said the campaign highlights the role of local government units in providing refugees with access to their basic rights and services that would allow them to become self-reliant and eventually give back to their host community.
For her part, Jenny Rose Avellano-Catalo from the Department of Justice (DOJ) said the ceremonial signing marks an important day because the acceptance of governmental responsibility and accountability symbolize homage and solidarity with refugees' remarkable resilience.
"DOJ, in partnership with the UNHCR and other stakeholders, continue to pursue projects and programs that would aid refugees to live a dignified and self-reliant life in the Philippines. With this, we wish for your openness and participation in the integration of these urban refugees in your city by allowing them to have access to basic services. In this way we'd be able to maximize their potentials and help them contribute productively in the society," Catalo said.
In response, Mayor Edwin D. Santiago said the city will fully support the campaign by giving the refugees an access to the local government's basic services.
"Our dream is for the city to become sustainable not only by being economically viable but by being socially inclusive. We welcome and treat everyone residing in the city as Fernandinos. Rest assured that refugees who choose to stay here will be given equal freedom of movement and access to basic services like the rest of the residents," he said.
City of San Fernando is the 7th local government in the Philippines to sign the commitment. The other cities and municipalities were San Jose Del Monte and Sta. Maria Bulacan, Vigan City, Zamboanga City, San Fernando City in La Union, and Sta. Ana in Pampanga. (CLJD/MJSC-PIA 3)