11 April 2017
Duterte Saudi visit to enhance Manila-Riyadh relations
(Riyadh, Saudi Arabia) – First Secretary and Philippine Consul-General to Saudi Arabia Iric C. Arribas hopes that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s state visit to the kingdom would enhance further the relations between Manila and Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia is the first leg of President Duterte’s first foreign trip to the Middle East and is the home and destination of work of the largest overseas Filipinos in the region.

“When you talk about relationship between the Philippines and Saudi Arabia, at the moment it’s still basically more on labor.  So talagang nangunguna yung proteksyon ng welfare ng overseas Filipino workers dito sa Saudi Arabia.  Pero higit dyan dapat magkaroon din tayo ng mas magandang relasyon sa larangan ng ekonomiya,” Arribas explained.

Speaking before the Philippine media delegation at the Philippine embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital, Consul-General Arribas said the official function of the President will start on April 11, with a meeting with King Salman and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman.

The President’s centerpiece program, the campaign against illegal drugs, is one of the points that may be discussed in his meeting with the Saudi monarch.  The Philippines hopes to get the cooperation of Saudi Arabia to combat the drug scourge, particularly in intelligence information sharing and capacity building.

A number of Filipinos are jailed in the kingdom for drug-related cases.

Related to this, Arribas underscored that it is important to respect the legal system of the host country.

On the issue of Filipino workers, Consul-General Arribas mentioned that one of at least two agreements that would be signed during the President’s three-day state visit is an agreement between the Philippine Department of labor and Employment (DOLE) and Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Labor and Social Development.

Arribas also explained the amnesty for undocumented foreign workers declared by the Saudi government last March 29 is an opportunity for Filipinos with problems in their papers to come clean and clear their government work permits.

“For this amnesty 2017 we are hoping that all of them will avail but we expect around 5,000 to avail, more or less.  We are urging undocumented Filipinos here to avail of the amnesty, dahil magiging mas mahusay ang kanilang buhay kung maayos ang papel nila,”

“Ang amnesty naman binibigyan sila ng pagkakataon na umuwi sa Pilipinas at makabalik din rito sa Saudi Arabia kung ninanais nila pero meron ng papel may visa nang maayos,” he explained.

The President is likewise expected to meet members of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry where Filipino business leaders would meet their Arab counterparts to explore trade and investment opportunities.

“So yung trade and investment importante ultimately ang magbe-benefit dito ay yung mga Filipino na nasa Pilipinas by way of job generation.  Pero maliban dun magkakaroon din tayong ibang kooperasyon sa larangan ng security, combating transnational crimes.  Mga ganyang bagay.  Nakikita naman natin ang sitwasyon sa mundo.  May mga terorismo.  So sa panahon ngayon kelangan makipag-ugnayan sa mga bansa sa Middle East dahil sila rin ay biktima ng terorismo.  Ganyang klase ng mga bagay ang magiging benefits ng pagbisita ng presidente dito,” he explained. ### PCO-Content

From Presidential Spokesperson Ernie Abella – On latest economic developments
While President Rodrigo Duterte is off to the Middle East to try to strengthen bilateral ties and attract more  investments and trade, the domestic economy is definitely on an upswing. 

The peso has strengthened back to the P49 level against the dollar. This  is the peso’s single biggest gain since March 2016 and erased all losses so far this year.

The Philippine Stock Exchange Index is up 0.45 percent to 7,617.91, its highest level in six months.

At the same time, Fitch Ratings has also affirmed the Philippines’ investment grade score.

Net inflow of foreign direct investments increased 13.2 percent in January to $685 million from $605 million a year ago, according to the latest Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas figures.

What all this highlights is that the Duterte administration’s economic team is on the right track in economic construction and that investors remain optimistic on the growth trajectory of the Philippine economy based on our sound economic fundamentals.

Duterte arrives in Saudi capital
(RIYADH) – President Rodrigo Roa Duterte arrived Monday evening, April 10, for a state visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).Philippine Airlines PR001, carrying the President and his delegation, landed at 9:43 p.m. local time (2:43 a. m. Manila time) at the King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh.

President Duterte was welcomed by Saudi officials led by Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Governor of Riyadh; and the Chief of Royal Protocol and Minister-in-Attendance Ali bin Nasser al-Ghafis, Minister of Labor and Social Development.

Among the Philippine officials who greeted the President at the airport were Consul General and Chargé d’Affaires of the Philippine embassy to KSA Imelda Panolong, Consul-General Iric Arribas, Consuls Christopher Patrick Aro, and Mary Jennifer Dingal; and Vice Consuls Noel Rodriguez, and Von Ryan Ferrera.

The President and the Governor of Riyadh were ushered to the Royal VIP lounge where the Crown Prince offered the Philippine President Arabic coffee as welcome drink.

Afterwards, President Duterte and the members of his delegation proceeded to the King Saud Guest Palace.

During his state visit, the President is expected to meet King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and other high-ranking Saudi officials, and the Filipino community in Saudi Arabia.

The trip aims to forge stronger partnerships with the Saudi government, both in the political and economic fronts, and strengthen the efforts for the protection of the rights and promotion of the welfare of overseas Filipino workers. ### PND

From Presidential Spokesperson Ernie Abella – On the March 2017 Pulse Asia Survey showing national urgent concerns of Filipinos
The March 2017 Pulse Asia Survey reveals that the most urgent national concerns of Filipinos include increasing salaries of workers (43%), controlling inflation (41%), and generation of jobs (39%).

These concerns are among the priorities of the government as highlighted in the 10-point socioeconomic agenda of the President, embodied in the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, to equalize opportunities for human development.

The President is particularly concerned for the poor, excluded and underserved. To ensure that regionally and locally the economies serve the interests of the many and not just the few, the Administration is increasing spending on infrastructure and social welfare protection, improving ease of doing business and creating more jobs.

The survey coincides with PRRD’s priorities of serving the nation’s interests which have been long neglected.