Accepting refugees: Amendments on the Philippine Immigration Act to harmonize it with the minimum standards on international law

Date of Publication


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Juris Doctor

Subject Categories

Immigration Law


College of Law



Thesis Advisor

Banuar Reuben A. Falcon


State responsibility starts with addressing root causes of forced displacement. Strengthening the rule of law and providing citizens with security, justice, and equal opportunities are crucial to breaking the cycles of violence, abuse and discrimination that can lead to displacement. In the Philippines, it does not have a concrete law to comply with the minimum standards of refugee protection based on international law.

In this study, the researchers will address the issue on whether or not the Philippine Immigration Act must be updated to be able to comply with the minimum international standards on refugee protection.

In sum, the researchers observed that under the UN Refugee Agency, “to be recognized as a refugee, a person must have a well-founded fear of being persecuted if returned to his country of origin.” As found, the foreign laws have a similar definition of refugee. However, these laws emphasize on the principle that the refugees should not be forcibly returned to a territory where their freedom is restrained. Therefore, the researchers recommend that the definition by the UN Refugee Agency should be the standard definition of refugee because this definition clearly covers the circumstances on why refugees shall not be forcibly returned to their own country. Moreover, the Philippine Immigration Act should be amended in terms of including the UN Refugee Agency’s definition. Furthermore, the researchers found that the local laws and issuances, especially the Philippine Immigration Act, lack the necessary standards to protect refugees coming to the Philippines. The Philippine Immigration Act should further define what a refugee is in accordance with the definition of the UN Refugee Agency. Moreover, it does not provide the process on how the government should assist refugees, nor does it require an allocated budget for refugee protection. Lastly, it lacks a provision on a national asylum which is needed in order for the Philippine government to handle and manage the arrival of the refugees. Therefore, the researchers deem it necessary for the law to be amended in order to include these standards.

There is no existing law in the Philippines that specifically covers refugees. The Philippine Immigration Act is not enough to protect and support the refugees, it does not meet the minimum international standards. The researchers believe that in the Philippine setting, private organizations and the United Nations are more active in helping refugees rather than the government. Furthermore, the scope of the Philippine Immigration Act is broad providing just a few provisions to explain how refugees can enter the Philippines. Mostly, executive orders are the ones issued by the government to cover for the lack of laws pertaining to refugees, and these can change from administration to administration, unlike legislation.

The researchers acknowledge the scope and limitations of this thesis since it only covers the suggested changes in the Philippine Immigration Act. In order to improve this study, the scope and limitations may be extended to include any deficiencies or concerns regarding other vital issues faced by the Refugees in the Philippines.

Abstract Format






Physical Description

69 leaves


Refugees—Protection—Law and legislation--Philippines; Emigration and immigration law--Philippines

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