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Mindanao Refugee Prospects Hailed by Commissioner Paul V. Mcnutt

July 11, 1939
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Paul V. McNutt, retiring U.S. High Commissioner for the Philippines, told a Jewish Telegraphic Agency correspondent here that 500 Jewish refugees have found a new home in the Islands and that plans for settlement of thousands more on the Island of Mindanao were progressing.

Commissioner McNutt, who on his departure from Manila was presented with a parchment by the Jewish Refugee Committee expressing its gratitude for his efforts in behalf of the refugees, was enthusiastic on the prospects of Mindanao. He said the island, whose colonization possibilities are being examined by an American experts’ commission sent by the Roosevelt Advisory Committee on Refugees, was “definitely the most fertile part of the Philippines.”

“So far,” he declared, “the Islands have taken in 500 Jewish refugees, and every one of them, through the cooperation of the fine Jewish Community of the Philippines, is at work at self-supporting jobs. As soon as room is made for more, the list of applicants is scanned for the necessary qualifications and without any visa difficulty they are speedily brought to Manila.”

Referring to Mindanao, he said the work there would have to be “from the very bottom, but the Island boasts plateaus equal in fertility and natural wealth to any other section of the world. It has vast untouched mineral wealth and definitely has the finest climate of the Philippine Islands.”

Commissioner McNutt revealed that he had convinced President Manuel Quezon that a change should be made in the Island’s laws to allow free entry of refugees without the formality of visas and passports. He also gained from President Quezon permission for refugee physicians to practice in the Philippines without examination. The president’s personal physician, he disclosed, is a refugee.

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