RIYADH — Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella on Tuesday said President Rodrigo Duterte is unlikely to discuss with the king of Saudi Arabia the cases of Filipinos on death row in the Middle Eastern kingdom.
Abella said such cases have not reached King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud yet.
"The process has not reached the level of the king. It is not the place to ask for clemency," Abella said. "It is not yet the time and place because it has not reached his level."
Before departing for Saudi Arabia, Duterte responded to a question on whether it's possible to discuss with the Saudi government the cases of Filipinos on death row in the kingdom.
The president said: “Yes, they’ve been given the clearance. I will fly them home. Pagdating ko dito dala ko na 'yung iba.”
But Abella clarified that the president was referring to undocumented Filipino workers waiting to be repatriated to the Philippines.
"Regarding amnesty, he did make mention he plans to bring (them) home," he said.
There are 23 Filipinos due for execution in Saudi Arabia, the Philippine embassy in Riyadh said. Twenty-one of them are in Riyadh, all charged with murder. The embassy added that they are not expecting any Filipino to be executed this year.
Duterte is on a three-country trip in the Middle East, as he seeks to forge closer ties with countries that are home to thousands of Filipino workers.
The president will be in Saudi Arabia until Wednesday, Bahrain from Wednesday to Friday, and Qatar from Friday to Sunday.
There are about 760,000 Filipinos in Saudi Arabia, 60,000 in Bahrain, and 250,000 in Qatar, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.