15 April 2017

PHL, Qatar set to ink  agreements during Duterte’s state visit
DOHA, Qatar – Three agreements are set to be signed by the Philippines and Qatar during President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit here aimed at improving collaboration in areas of health, culture, and technical vocational education and training.

According to Philippine ambassador Alan Timbayan, President Duterte and Qatar Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Al Thani will witness the signing of the agreements when they meet on April 16 during President Duterte’s two-day state visit to the Middle East country.Aside from agreements on healthcare, arts and technical vocational trainings, possible addition would be a waiver on visa for diplomatic passport holders, Timbayan said in an interview.

Also, the ambassador said they are looking forward to the signing of bilateral agreement on the promotion and protection of investments during the President’s visit.

Once such agreement is signed, more investments  will come to the Philippines as Qatari companies eye to diversify their investment to different fields. They see the Philippines as one of the best locations for their investment, according to Timbayan.

“We are sure on health and then culture and vocational technical education and training,”  he said on the agreements to be signed by the two countries.

The agreement on healthcare will focus on exchanges of expertise of specialists, research trainers and doctors from both countries.

In the agreement on culture, Timbayan said they are proposing for the conduct of a Qatar-Philippine exhibit day this year. Some of the country’s arts and culture will be brought to Qatar and also Qatar arts to the Philippines.

He said they foresee recruitment of more Filipino skilled workers for Qatar as the gulf state accelerates its constructions of hotels and other infrastructures geared towards the celebration of the FIFA World Cup in 2022.

The demand for Filipino engineers and laborers is expected to increase as a result of Qatar’s thrust to develop its infrastructure sector, Timbayan said.

Doha is home to 222,721 workers, based on the data obtained from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or MOFA as of May 2016, Timbayan reported.

There are more than 3,000 Filipino professionals working as engineers, nurses, soft ware developers, geologists, architects, bankers, teachers, and doctors.

Skilled workers on the other hand are composed of laboratory technicians, cooks, chefs, carpenters, welders, and plumbers.

There are also Filipino household workers in Qatar.###PND

Palace: Duterte’s gulf states visit gained extraordinarily warm welcome
MANAMA, BAHRAIN — Presidential Spokesperon Ernesto Abella on Friday, April 14, described as ‘extraordinarily warm’ the reception President Rodrigo Duterte is getting from the Filipino communities in the gulf states.“The President is on his second leg of State Visits to GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries. The reception has been extraordinarily warm, built upon the decades long presence of Filipino overseas workers,” the President’s spokesperson said in a press briefing.

“These have been very moving days, and the closest one can describe is a father meeting with his children and extended family,” Abella added.

He underscored Filipinos abroad now feel they have a President and a government who prioritizes their needs and ensures that they are being recognized in the national life and conversation.

Many of these overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), Abella said, work as nannies for the children of the rich and powerful in the region as many have been touched by the caring heart of the Filipino.

These present leaders, he continued, speak lovingly and admiringly of Filipinos as a whole. They likewise expressed ‘deep admiration’ for the Philippine President, especially in his campaign to restore trust in the government.

“Through his campaign against illegal drug traffickers and violators; providing market and employment opportunities so that all, especially the poor, can achieve their dreams for a better life; also, for engaging rebel groups to agree on common values and structures for a nation whose first and foremost priorities are the common good and national interest,” Abella explained.

“In all, one discerns that he is bringing the Filipino to a place of self-worth, self-rule and self-support,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, the President, on his second day of his state visit to Bahrain, had witnessed signing of key agreements, attended to a number of courtesy calls, and presided some private meetings.

Just recently, President Duterte graced the signing of a memorandum of understanding between AMA Group Holdings Corporation and Nader & Ebrahim Sons of Hassan Company, where the parties agreed to expand their operation in Mindanao by targeting additional 10,000 hectares of farmland for agricultural production.

“Iyong 250-million dollar investment signed last night (April 13) between the AMA Group and the Nader & Ebrahim Sons will create at first 3,500 jobs. But once fully operational in three to five years, they are looking at 40,000 jobs,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez announced.

On the other hand, Foreign Affairs Acting Secretary Enrique Manalo said the government recognized the significance of enhancing and strengthening the bond of partnership between Bahrain and the Philippines and their people.

“The general thrust of the discussion was on basically three broad topics… the contribution made by the Filipinos here in the Kingdom and the acknowledgement of the Kingdom of Bahrain of that contribution, and the fact that we have a very strong people-to-people connection,” Manalo added, referring to the President’s private meetings with Bahraini officials.

ACTS-OFW partylist representative Congressman Aniceto Bertiz III, on the other hand, disclosed that the government is not only focusing on OFWs’ deployment but on their “reintegration” as well.

“(That’s) the reason why we are involving the different secretaries and agencies, especially the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry), which is the Negosyo Center under Secretary Lopez, as well as the huge project that our government is signing so example of that are the railroads and superhighways that we are building,” Bertiz said.

“The President is very conscious of the social implication of our countrywomen and countrymen going abroad to look for jobs,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III added.

The Labor Chief, thus, announced that the President will be bringing with him around 400 undocumented OFWs who availed of the Saudi government amnesty program when he returned home from his state visits.

Bello also disclosed the result of his meeting with Bahraini assistant secretary of labor where he vowed to shorten the processing of papers by OFWs from six weeks to one week.

Meanwhile, the Philippines is also looking at the possibility of enhancing cultural exchanges with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, Foreign Affairs Acting Secretary Manalo said in a press briefing held at Four Seasons Hotel in Manama, which was also attended by the Philippine Ambassador to Bahrain Alfonso Ver and Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.###PCO-Content

Duterte to OFWs in Bahrain: No corruption, no oppression, no abusive officials under my watch
ISA TOWN, Bahrain — President Rodrigo Duterte promised overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Bahrain that his six-year administration would be free from corruption, oppression and abusive officials.Facing an ecstatic crowd of around 4,000 at the Khalifa Sports City Stadium here, Duterte said he wants to solve the problem of corruption in the country to encourage OFWs to return home.

“Ang OFW kasi alam ko gusto ninyong mahinto na talaga ‘yung corruption para aangat ang bayan natin. And maybe the next generation can really come home,” Duterte said.

He said OFWs can also help in reforming the country by being assertive and by shunning all acts of corruption particularly in the Immigration and Customs bureaus.

The President, meanwhile, announced that he would be setting up a separate department for OFWs soon.

“In a few months you will have a Department of Overseas Filipino Workers,” he said adding that workers will eventually reduce the processing time of their papers from six weeks to three weeks.

“You can use the online at kayo doon kung gusto maghanap ng trabaho, you just direct kung ano at ilista na ninyo diyan at mamili kayo, then you apply online,” he said.

He stressed that creating an OFW department would also help in stamping out “fly by night” recruitment agencies.

Duterte expressed his gratitude to the progressive Kingdom of Bahrain for welcoming Filipino workers into their country.

“Bahrain has been good to you. I have talked to all officials including His Majesty the King, and they only have nice words for you. Sabi nila wala silang reklamo sa inyo, mababait kayo, matiyaga, at wala silang masabi,” he said.

“Kaya sabi ko, nandito kami and I gave to the government and to the King my promise and commitment that we will stand by and protect the State of Bahrain,” he added.

The President received a very warm reception from the members of the royal family during his three-day state visit here especially from His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

Duterte also had an opportunity to meet His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa and Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa. The Prime Minister of Bahrain led the send-off party for the visiting head of state.

Duterte proceeded to Qatar for the final leg of his three-country swing in the Middle East. ###PND