13 April 2017
Envoy: Duterte’s visit to elevate PH-Bahrain ties to greater heights
(Manama, Bahrain) – A Philippine Embassy official here has expressed confidence that the relationship between the Philippines and the Kingdom of Bahrain will be elevated to greater heights with the upcoming state visit of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Philippine Ambassador to Bahrain Alfonso Ver said five agreements are expected to be signed, which aims to expand relations and promote deeper cooperation with Manama.

“Yes, we’ve lined up five agreements. First is the establishment of the High Joint Commission, which will be the forum and the mechanism where the entire range of our relationships and other relationships between Bahrain and the Philippines will be discussed. We have an amendment to our double taxation agreement. We have another amendment to our air services agreement. We have a Memorandum of Understanding between the Foreign Service Institute of the Philippines and the Diplomatic Institute of the Bahrain Foreign Ministry. In addition to that, there’s a private agreement, business investment agreement between a company in Bahrain and a company in the Philippines,” Ver said.

President Duterte is expected to arrive here on Wednesday night coming from his state visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Ver said since the establishment of relations between Bahrain and the Philippines in 1978, the two countries have been striving hard to elevate ties in terms of trade and investment, economic, and employment.

“This (trip) will also signal the renewal of our already close ties with Bahrain and hopefully establish even elevated to greater heights especially now as we would like to position the Philippines as Bahrain and the regions gateway to ASEAN and Asia. At the same time, Bahrain as a gateway for Philippines into Eastern province of Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia and the greater GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council),” he said.

President Duterte is scheduled to hold bilateral meeting with His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa at Sakhir Palace on Thursday.

He is also slated to meet with the Capital Club of Bahrain, a prestigious private business and social club composed of top CEOs and businessmen in Bahrain.

“They will listen to a presentation from our economic team on possible investments, mutual opportunities for economic exchanges, trade and investment, even tourism and the President will grace that event and hopefully meet also the eminent businessmen here in Bahrain,” said Ver.

The President will also meet with the Filipino community at the Khalifa Sports Stadium where thousands of overseas Filipino workers are expected to attend.

Ver said there are around 60,000 Filipinos working and living in Bahrain. He said while there are reported cases of abuses against Filipino workers here, the numbers remain low and most workers are treated very well.

“They are just so anxious and excited to hear direct from him his programs, his plans for the workers here, for their welfare, for their protection, and of course, what they look forward to in the Philippines under his administration,” he said noting that this will be first visit of a Filipino leader in Bahrain after eight long years.

‘Duterte is doing a good job’

In an interview with several members of the Filipino community here, they expressed optimism and support for the ten-month old administration of Duterte.

“I am so happy that he is elected as the President of the Philippines and I’m so proud of him, of what he is doing right now,” said Felma Taylor, a Filipino entrepreneur in Bahrain.

“That is a very broad topic if you will talk about corruption. So I think he is doing a good job for that. And the politics, I am not really good in talking about politics but I’m proud of what he is doing,” she added.

Overseas Filipino workers Rowena Mariano Al Musawi and Cristalyn Pastrana also lauded the President for the reforms he has implemented particularly his crack down on red tape that led to the improvement of processing of documents in the Immigration.

Leslie Arlen Garduque, who owns an advertising company in Manama, also commended the President for being a humble and compassionate leader.

“He’s strict, he’s firm, but he cares. We feel that he cares… Not comparing with any other governments but he just believes that he will do his best to lead the country and the government itself,” she said.###PND

PRRD impresses Saudis as gov’t scores better terms for OFWs

(RIYADH, Saudi Arabia) – President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a resounding success in terms of improving the lot of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and strengthening the Philippines’ ties with the Middle East country.

This is the assessment of cabinet secretaries who were part of the delegation during a press briefing held at the Marriott Courtyard yesterday.

Aside from Presidential Communications Office Secretary Martin Andanar and Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella, ACTS OFW Party-list Rep. Aniceto Bertiz III, Department of Foreign Affairs Acting Secretary Enrique Manalo, Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III , and Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez attended and faced the Filipino media.

Cabinet members stressed that members of the Saudi government were singularly impressed with Duterte’s governance style and were receptive about the prospects of expanding business ties with the country.

“We can explain the President’s visit here in three aspects: people, progress and partnership,” Secretary Manalo said as he stressed that Saudi Arabia is the top employment destination for Filipinos and is a major producer of fuel consumed in the Philippines.

“We also consider this trip as something aimed at creating progress, that is to draw investors to the Philippines by showing potential investors that the Philippines is a viable destination for doing their business, and the fact that we also have a huge and fairly young population in the Philippines, ” Manalo added.

Manalo pointed out that the delegation hopes to engage Saudi investments to Mindanao especially and particularly “its sectors of halal food security, energy security and tourism.”

“We believe the ties will greatly benefit the Philippines and the Filipinos, and will strengthen counter-terrorism, combatting illegal drugs as well as economic partnership.”

For his part, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said his counterpart in the Saudi government also agreed to negotiate on new rules to improve working conditions for Filipino overseas workers.

“We are meeting with the Minister of Labor regarding the bilateral agreements that we signed yesterday. Basically, these agreements refer to the labor standards that provided our OFWs with rules on better wages, protection from maltreatment, working hours and other labor issues,” Bello said.

Bello announced that his request that more than 160 runaway workers who are stranded in shelters in Saudi be allowed to return to the Philippines has been granted by the Saudi government and will be allowed to fly home in time for the President’s return.### PCO-Content

Duterte vows corruption-free of doing business in PH

(RIYADH, Saudi Arabia)– President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Wednesday, April 12, assured Saudi businessmen that his administration does not tolerate corruption.

“There is no corruption now in my administration. We make it easy for you to do business in the Philippines,” President Duterte said during his meeting with the members of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“We need investments in my country, and if you may want to go there and invest, we can give you the best place to go about earning in my country,” he added.

There were already pledges and business agreements forged in various industries during the investment forum. Expected to benefit from these are businesses located in economic zones and engaged in Halal food production.

One of them was the Letter of Intent (LOI) signed by Sheikh Alwaleed Tuwaijri, president of Saudi Investment Group, and Charito Plaza, director-general of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority declaring the Saudi firm’s interest to invest in ecozone development activities in the Philippines.

“Business is business and anytime that you feel that there is a promise of business in my country, feel free. We give you the best incentives and the best environment that we can offer for you… Maybe, through our Cabinet members and Secretaries, we can just select what type of investments that you may want to introduce into my country and would really be available,” Duterte said.

The President likewise took the occasion to thank the Saudi government for hosting the country’s overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) whose remittances contributed in growing the economy.

The members of the Cabinet seen accompanying the President in the investment forum included Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar. ###PND

Pinoys give warmest welcome to PRRD; Department of Overseas Filipino Workers sought

(RIYADH, Saudi Arabia) – President Rodrigo Roa Duterte concluded his three-day state visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with a meeting with the Filipino community here at the Riyadh Marriott Hotel.

President Duterte said that he particularly chose Saudi Arabia as his first must-visit country outside the ASEAN region.

“It is of our national interest that I visit first the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Nandito yung karamihan ng ating — kayo — ating mga kababayan. You are not just citizens of the Republic of the Philippines, you are the assets. Ang ating gross national product is medyo malaki, part of the economy of the country, part of the money that is driving the economics of the countryare the remittances that you sent to the Philippines. Importante talaga na makausap ko kayo,” the President said.

Saudi Arabia hosts the largest number of overseas Filipino workers in the Middle East.

The Chief Executive likewise considers Saudi Arabia as a very important ally that the Philippines needs to build good bilateral relations in the fields of the economy, trade and commerce, investments, and oil production.

“They are fueling our industries. Inuna ko talaga ang pinakaimportante sa ating bayan – Filipino workers, their welfare and the importance of establishing alliances,” Mr. Duterte explaining the reason for his visit.

The President also expressed his happiness for receiving the warmest welcome, by gamely doing a duet with a kababayan with the song “Ikaw”.

It was also the first time PRRD had a Q&A with an overseas Filipino community meeting; during which he disclosed that he would propose to Congress to have a Department of Overseas Filipino Workers, separate from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).### PCO-Content

Duterte in Bahrain for 2nd leg of State Visit

(Manama, Bahrain) President Rodrigo Duterte arrived here on Wednesday, April 12, for the second leg of his visit in Middle East countries in a bid to enhance economic and political relations with the Gulf states.

The President’s plane touched down at the Bahrain International Airport at 10:10 p.m. (3:10 a.m. in Manila)

Duterte came from a successful visit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia as part of his three-country swing to the Middle East.

Upon arrival, the Chief Executive was received by Bahrain’s Deputy Prime Minister Shaikh Ali Bin Khalifa Al Khalifa as well as Philippine Ambassador to Bahrain Alfonso Ver and other embassy officials.

The President will officially start his state visit here on Thursday where he will have a private lunch to be hosted by the Deputy Prime Minister at the Ritz Carlton Hotel.

His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the King of Bahrain, will be hosting an official welcome ceremony for Duterte at the Sakhir Palace in the evening.

This will be followed by a bilateral meeting wherein the two leaders are expected to witness the signing of five agreements including a business investment deal.

An official dinner will also be hosted in honor of the visiting head of state.

On Friday, the President is scheduled to meet with His Royal Highness Salman Bin Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa, the Deputy King, Crown Prince of Bahrain at the Bahrain International Circuit.

He will also meet with the Bahrain business leaders at the Capital Club, Harbour Tower.

The President’s visit will be capped with his regular meet and greet with the Filipino community, which will be held at the Khalifa Sports City.

Duterte will then proceed to Doha, Qatar for the final leg of his Middle East trip. ###PND