President Rodrigo Duterte says that there is a big possibility that he could be bringing home jailed OFWs from the Middle East who have been pardoned by the government there.
In a press conference following his departure speech Monday, Duterte said his hopes are high that upon his return from his 7-day trip in Riyadh, Bahrain and Qatar he could be bringing home with him some OFWs.
The President however did not specify and clarify if the pardoned OFWs include those that are in the death row.
It was learned that there are 10 Filipinos now in death row in various jails in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia alone.
The seven men and three women were convicted of crimes punishable by death. Twenty-one more are also convicted of other crimes also punishable by death but are not yet in the death row list.
The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh said that the 10 Filipinos in death row have failed to settle blood-money payments.
Duterte said he is set to meet with King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud on Tuesday and one of the agenda would be the clemency to be given to the convicted Filipinos in Saudi.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte underscored in his departure speech at the Davao International Airport that his visits to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kingdom of Bahrain and State of Qatar aim to promote deeper, more meaningful and more positive engagements with these countries.
“There is much at stake in the Philippines’ relations with the Middle East. It is the global center of traditional energy resources. It is a source of investments with potential for much growth. It is an expanding market for key Philippine products and services. And it is home to the largest group of Filipinos working overseas,” the President said.
The first leg of President Duterte’s state visit is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where he will meet with His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
“It will be an important and valuable opportunity to reaffirm a lasting friendship and to seek ways of further broadening cooperation, particularly in politico-security and defense, trade and investments, anti-narcotics, labor, energy, education and culture,” the President stressed.
His second state visit will take place in the Kingdom of Bahrain to meet with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. According to President Duterte, his state visit to Bahrain will pave the way to expand the frontiers of friendship and tap into converging interests in order to intensify two-way trade and investments, seek greater politico-security cooperation, and increase exchanges.
Lastly, the Chief Executive will proceed to the State of Qatar to meet with Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
“We will seek greater politico-security cooperation, collaboration in the field of health and in culture,” he said.
The President also mentioned that he shall meet the Filipino communities of the three countries to thank them for their support to the government’s efforts in bringing reform and change to the country.
President Duterte arrived at King Khalid International Airport 9:43 p.m. Monday (Saudi time).
Among the Philippine officials who welcomed the President were Consul General Imelda Panolong, Charge D’Affairs, Philippine Embassy Riyadh; Consuls Iric Arribas, Christopher Patrick Aro, Mary Jennifer Dingal and Vice Consuls Noel Fernandez and Von Ryan Ferrera.
Saudi Arabia officials who welcomed the President were Prince Faisal Bin Bandar Al Saud, Riyadh governor and the chief of Royal protocol as well as the minister in attendance.
The President and the members of his delegation proceeded to the King Saud Guest Palace after their arrival.