Duterte off to Middle East during Holy Week

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 07 2017 11:29 AM | Updated as of Apr 07 2017 11:51 AM

President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA (UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte will fly to 3 Middle Eastern countries in state visits next week to meet with the countries' leaders and the overseas Filipino workers there.

Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Hjayceelyn Quintana said the President will visit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from April 10 to 12, the Kingdom of Bahrain from 12 to 14, and the State of Qatar from 14 to 16.

Quintana said the visits' objectives could be summarized by the words "people, progress, and partnerships."

The trip, she said, aims to "strengthen efforts for the protection of the rights and promotion of the welfare of the more than 1 million of our people working in those 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."

Duterte will also meet with Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, and Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, according to Quintana.

"He will discuss with these leaders matters relevant to the welfare and dignity of the Filipinos living in their countries as well as explore avenues for economic and political cooperation," she said.

During the trip, Duterte will "explore partnerships" with these countries in tourism development, Halal food security, Islamic finance, and energy security as well as investments, according to Quintana.

"He will invite these countries to invest particularly in Mindanao as a way of lifting Mindanao out of both poverty and conflict," she said.

She added the President is also keen on seeking partnerships on security, countering terrorism, and combating illicit drugs.

Another highlight of the trip would be Duterte's meeting with the Filipino communities in Riyadh, Manama, and Doha.

There are about 760,000 Filipinos in Saudi Arabia, 60,000 in Bahrain, and 250,000 in Qatar, according to Quintana.

"The President hopes to inspire people making a living in these countries to help him build a more developed and economically vibrant Philippines," she said.

"The President desires that in the not-so-distant future, there will be no longer a reason for Filipinos to leave their families behind in order to make a living," she added.

Duterte is hopeful that through the "stronger partnerships he will forge during these visits, he can tap into the over 500-billion USD combined investment capital of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Qatar, and bring home more investments and jobs for our people," Quintana said.