12 April 2017

Duterte eyes warmer RP-KSA ties with visit, the first by a sitting RP president in 8 years
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is eager to work closer with the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to forge closer ties towards a mutually beneficial relationship.Speaking before Filipino newsmen at the Marriot Courtyard at the Diplomatic Quarter in Riyadh, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said the visit by the President is eyed to address crucial issues between the two countries.

“This is the President’s first state visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the first of a Philippine President in the last eight years. The state visit is an opportunity for the Philippines to strengthen the bilateral relations founded on people-to-people ties that can strive for stronger partnership for progress,” Abella said.

Abella further said the Chief Executive’s delegation will pitch the Philippines as an investment destination in meetings with Saudi business leaders.

The Presidential Spokesperson likewise explained that “the President can stress that the Philippines is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world with growth anchored on strong macroeconomic fundamentals and a leadership resolved to bring genuine reform, combat corruption and address criminality.”.

He added that the President, in his meeting with His Majesty King Salman and the courtesy call of Ministers of the Cabinet, can discuss the expansion of the different areas of Philippine-Saudi Arabia cooperation.

Of particular interest he said was the President’s intent to “express appreciation for assistance to Mindanao, specifically on the pursuit of just and lasting peace; explore new growth areas in two-way trade and investments; discuss closer cooperation on security issues that is terrorist and violent extremism, trade in illicit drugs and other transnational crimes, and to express appreciation for hosting Filipinos in Saudi Arabia and to discuss labor issues confronting overseas Filipino workers.”

Meeting with OFWs likewise on top agenda

Abella added that President Duterte was keen on meeting members of the Filipino community in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. A resounding 77 percent of votes cast by Filipinos during the last elections was for then presidential candidate and mayor of Davao city Rodrigo Duterte.

“The President will also meet the members of the Filipino community to thank them for their support for the Duterte administration’s reform agenda,” the spokesman underscored as he is “very appreciative of the support of the people.”

Duterte is known for being close with the masses and he is fully aware of their working condition.

Abella revealed that the President has expressed willingness to bring back some Filipino workers who availed of the Saudi government’s amnesty declared last March 29 for foreign workers who run afoul with immigration rules.

“(H)e did make mention that he would like or that he is planning to bring home some of those who would like to take advantage of the amnesty program regarding violators of immigration rules,” Abella said.

He however pointed out it would be premature for the President to plead for the lives of Filipinos on death row because these cases by and large have not yet reached the level of the Saudi King.

“When he was asked about the death row matter we need to clarify that first, the process has not yet reached the level of the King. In which case, there is no place for us to be asking for clemency at this stage. So let us wait for the process regarding death row issues,” Abella added.

Abella said closer cooperation on security issues especially terrorism and violent extremism and trade in illicit drugs will be dealt with during the visit.

Among the matters to be taken up are talks regarding political consultations between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Philippines, agreement on cooperation on general workers, recruitment and employment between the Ministry of Labor and Social Development of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Department of Labor of Employment of the Republic of the Philippines. ### PND

From Presidential Spokesperson Ernie Abella –  On clash of gov’t troops vs. ASG in Bohol

The Palace commends the timely action of our military and police that thwarted the evil plans of some armed lawless elements to sow fear and terror in the province of Bohol.
We also laud the vigilance and cooperation of local communities that led to the rapid deployment of security forces against these bandits.

At least 6 members of the armed group were killed during the fierce firefight at Inabanga town on Tuesday.

One officer, two soldiers, and a policeman paid the ultimate sacrifice in the performance of their duty to serve and protect our people. They are true heroes. We salute their gallantry as we also assure their families that they will be provided all the necessary assistance from the government.

The public should have no cause for alarm as the situation is contained and our security forces are in control. The government is exerting all efforts to maintain peace and order.

We encourage everyone to keep calm but remain alert and vigilant and to report to authorities information on any possible threat to public safety.

Andanar meets Saudi info minister, assistance for Salaam TV sought
(RIYADH, Saudi Arabia) – Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar met his Saudi counterpart Dr. Adel Al Toraifi on the sidelines of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s state visit to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The meeting was friendly and cordial and lasted for more than 30 minutes.

Secretary Andanar told Minister Adel his plan to launch the country’s first government-run Muslim channel, Salaam TV, in June of this year.

“This is one avenue they (Muslims) can voice out,” Andanar said as he cited the situation in Mindanao as an offshoot of “lack of communication.”

Apart from Salaam TV, Sec, Andanar plans to have Salaam Radio and Salaam films.

The President ordered the establishment of Salaam TV during his first State of the Nation in 2016.

Minister Adel of the Saudi Culture and Information, on his part, congratulated the head of the Philippine Presidential Communications for working on Salaam TV as the former underscored the importance of “sending the right message,” especially one that is about peaceful co-existence.

The dynamics of Salaam TV is something novel to Philippine broadcasting, thus, the Philippine Presidential Communications Chief requested for technical assistance and training for Presidential Communications Office (PCO) personnel.

“We are happy to assist, committed to help … to assist because it is between the benefit of the sides,” Adel explained.

A series of follow-up meetings are expected to take place leading to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two countries in the area of information and communication.

“We make sure it happens. We want to give full assistance,” Adel ended. ### PCO-Content

Philippine President meets King of Saudi Arabia
RIYADH — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte led Philippine officials in a courtesy call on King Salman Abdulaziz Al Saud at His Majesty’s private residence.

It is the first time in eight years that a Filipino leader was received in a state visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).

The President thanked the King Salman for hosting Filipino workers in the country. The Saudi king, in turn, thanked President Duterte for the Philippines’ contribution in providing professionals and other skilled workers for the Kingdom.

Accompanying the President were Acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.

Also in attendance were National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Presidential Adviser for Overseas Filipino Workers Abdulla Mama-O, Chairman of Mindanao Development Authority Datu Khayr D. Alonto, Philippine Embassy to KSA Chargé d’Affaires Imelda Panolong, Special Assistant to the President Cristopher Lawrence Go, and Senator Alan Peter Cayetano.

After short pleasantries, King Salman introduced the Royal Family and Cabinet Ministers to President Duterte, and was reciprocated by the President who introduced his official delegation to His Majesty.

Following tradition, everyone was offered Arabic coffee before the President and His Majesty were ushered to the lunch room followed by the Royal Family, Cabinet Ministers, and the Philippine delegation.

After the official lunch, President Duterte and King Salman were escorted to the venue for the bilateral meeting and signing ceremony.

Among the signed agreements included a political consultations between Saudi’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, and a labor cooperation for general workers recruitment and employment between the Ministry of Labor and Social Development and the Department of Labor and Employment.###PCO-Content

Memorandum Circular No. 17