Duterte to invite Middle East countries to invest in Mindanao

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 09 April) — President Rodrigo Duterte will be inviting more investors into Mindanao during his state visits to three Middle East countries on April 10 to 16.

President Rodrigo Duterte will leave this city at 2:40 p.m. on Monday for state visits to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the State of Qatar where he is expected to explore partnerships in tourism development, halal food security, Islamic finance and energy security, as well as investments and “he will invite these countries to invest particularly in Mindanao as a way of lifting Mindanao out of both poverty and conflict,” Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Hjayceelyn Quintana said at the press briefing in Malacanang on April 7.

President Rodrigo Duterte will be inviting Middle East countries to invest in Mindanao during his state visits to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the State of Qatar on April 10 to 16.  MindaNews file photo by MANMAN DEJETO

The President will first visit Riyadh, KSA on April 10-12 where he will meet with His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud, proceed to Manama, Bahrain on April 12-14  to meet with His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and move to Doha, Qatar from 14-16 to meet with the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, said Quintana, who heads the Office of Middle East and African Affairs at the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The President will also meet with the Filipino communities in these countries.

Quintana said the President will discuss with the three 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.”

“The President hopes that through the stronger partnerships he will forge during this visit, he can tap into the over 500 billion US dollars combined investment capital of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the State of Qatar and bring home more investments and jobs for our people,” she said.

Quintana summed up the objectives of the President’s trip to the Middle East, as “people, progress and partnerships,” which aims to strengthen efforts for the protection of the rights and promotion of the welfare of the more than one million Filipinos working in these countries.”

The Middle East continues to be the destination of choice of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and is the second largest source of remittances with 28 percent or almost 7.6 billion US dollars remitted from the region last year.

At least 32 OFWs are on death row in these countries — 31 in Saudi Arabia, one in Bahrain and none in Qatar, Quintana said, adding that all these cases are being handled by the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs “and they are all in different levels of — in terms of handling and they are actually very complex, some of these cases are very complex.”

The President is expected to witness the signing of several agreements on labor, agriculture, air services, culture, health and political bilateral consultations.

Quinta said the President will “invite investors to the Philippines and usher in progress here at home, and to forge stronger partnerships by elevating our political and economic cooperation with these countries to new heights.”

On political cooperation, the President is keen on seeking partnerships in security, countering terrorism and combating illegal drugs, she said. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)