RIYADH: Terrorism and investment, with special reference to the welfare of Filipino workers, will top the agenda of the talks of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte with Saudi officials here this week.
Duterte will arrive here on Monday as part of his three-nation Gulf tour, during which he will attempt to forge closer relations with the Gulf states and cooperate closely with them in different fields.
“President Duterte will be meeting with the heads of state of the three countries during his week-long trip from April 10 to 16,” said a statement posted on the website of the Philippine president. Besides the Kingdom, Duterte will also visit Qatar and Bahrain to “strengthen efforts for the protection of the rights and promotion of the welfare of more than one million of Filipino people working in these three countries.”
Jun Nacion, area commander of the Knights of Rizal, Riyadh chapter, said that his group is happy about the president’s visit, “which will enable us to meet the representatives of the 872,000-strong Filipino community in the Kingdom.” He expressed hope that the president could help distressed overseas Filipino worker (OFWs) regarding their problems, especially those who are due for repatriation.
Another community leader Florante Catanus, vice president of the umbrella group All Filipino Community and Sports Commission (AFCSC), said: “The OFWs from the Eastern Province will submit only one petition containing their demands.” These include the establishment of an OFW department, setting up a consular office and increasing in the number of staff at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in the region.
Duterte’s office statement said the “Middle East remains an important region for the Philippines to expand economic and political ties.”
The Middle East, mainly the Gulf countries, is the second-largest source of remittances with 28 percent or almost $7.6 billion sent to the Philippines in 2016 alone. The president leaves for Manama, Bahrain on Wednesday.
The final leg of his trip will be in Doha, where he is scheduled to meet with Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. Duterte is expected to witness the signing of several agreements on labor, agriculture, air services, culture, health and political bilateral consultations during his stay in the three countries including the Kingdom.
Some of the areas identified for closer collaboration with the Gulf states include partnerships in tourism development, the halal food sector, Islamic finance and energy security. The president will also be seeking closer ties in the domains of security, countering terrorism and combating illicit drugs.
Mo=reover, the president will also invite the Gulf countries to invest particularly in Mindanao, the second-largest island in the Philippines with a sizeable Muslim population.

Add Comment