The Daily Manila Shimbun


Duterte to visit 3 Middle Eastern countries next week

April 7, 2017

President Rodrigo Duterte will undertake next week state visits to three Middle Eastern countries where he will seek cooperation on security, countering terrorism and combating illicit drugs, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Friday. Duterte will meet leaders of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Qatar, as well as the overseas Filipino workers there on April 10 to 16, said Assistant Foreign Secretary for Middle East and African Affairs Hjayceelyn Quintana in a press briefing in Malacanang. She said the President’s trip to the Middle East will be summarized by the words, “People, Progress and Partnerships." The visits aim "to strengthen efforts for the protection of the rights and promotion of the welfare of the more than one million of our people working in those three countries, invite investors to the Philippines and usher in progress here at home, and to forge stronger partnerships by elevating our political and economic cooperation with these countries to new heights," she said. Duterte will be in Saudi Arabia on April 10 to 12 where he will meet with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. He will proceed to Manama, Bahrain on April 12 to 14 to meet with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, and then to Qatar on April 14 to 16  to meet with Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. "On political cooperation, the president is keen on seeking partnerships in security, countering terrorism and combating illicit drugs," Quintana said. She said Duterte will explore partnerships in tourism development, halal food security, Islamic finance and energy security, as well as investments. The president will invite these countries to invest particularly in Mindanao as a way of lifting Mindanao out of both poverty and conflict, she said. Quintana said Duterte will witness signing of the agreements on labor, agriculture, air services, culture, health and political bilateral consultations. "The president hopes that through the stronger partnerships he will forge during this visit, he can tap into the over 500 billion US dollars combined investment capital of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and State of Qatar and bring home more investment and jobs for our people," she said. Asked if Duterte will be bringing the cases of Filipinos on the death row, she said the government has been monitoring their cases. There are 31 Filipinos on the death row in Saudi Arabia, one in Bahrain, and none in Qatar, she said. The president's trip will take place when the country is observing Holy Week. Quintana said it was not the intention to have the overseas trip during the Lenten break. She said there were three or four dates that were considered before as early as December, January and February, but both sides agreed the April dates were "mutually convenient for both sides." (Celerina Monte/DMS)