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Duterte in Middle East next week

The Department of Foreign Affairs said yesterday that President Duterte will raise matters concerning the welfare of overseas Filipino workers in his week-long State visits to three countries in the Middle East during the Holy Week.

Hjayceelyn Quintana, Assistant Secretary of the Office of Middle East and African Affairs, said Duterte will meet leaders of the three countries as well as OFWs from April 10 to 16.

Duterte will be in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia from April 10 to 12 to meet King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Afterwards, he will be in Manama, Bahrain from April 12 to 14 to meet King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

Finally, the President will go to Doha, Qatar from April 14 to 16 to meet Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.

“The President’s trip to the Middle East aims to strengthen efforts for the protection of the rights and promotion of the welfare of the Filipinos working in those countries,” Quintana said in a pre-departure briefing in Malacañang yesterday.

According to DFA data, there are 1,067,433 Filipinos working in the three countries as the Middle East remains to be a top destination of choice of OFWs in 2015.

According to Quintana, part of Duterte’s agenda is to invite investors to the Philippines and usher in progress in the country and forge stronger partnerships by elevating political and economic cooperation with these countries.

“He will discuss with these leaders matters relevant to the welfare and dignity of the Filipinos living in their countries as well as explore avenues for economic and political cooperation,” she said.

Quintana said that the trip was scheduled during the Holy Week because it was the only date that was “mutually convenient for both parties.”

She said at least three other dates for the months of December 2016 and January and February 2017 were proposed but the only time available was during the Holy Week. (Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos)