MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte is back in the Philippines after a three-nation swing in the Middle East as he described the trip as “his most productive ever.”
A few minutes before Duterte’s plane touched down at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport early on Monday morning, a special Saudia flight carrying 140 undocumented Filipinos who were granted amnesty by Saudi Arabia landed at the gateway.
The flight was under the auspices of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
In a meeting at the airport, Duterte told the 140 Filipinos in a mixture of Filipino and English: “I went there for all of you. I cannot reveal, however, what I talked about with Saudi Arabian officials but I gave too many concessions because it is to the national interest of the Republic of the Philippines. I cannot reveal everything.”
Because of protocol and the sensitivity of some security issues, Duterte said he could not give the details of his discussions with the Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar governments.
Duterte said he was glad that the Filipino workers and their families were safely back in the country as he thanked them for helping the country and the economy through their remittances.
Meanwhile, Duterte said he is considering the construction of a “small general hospital” that will cater to Filipino workers in the Middle East and the repatriation of distressed Filipinos working in the region. He also said will look for funds for the two endeavors.
He assured returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) that the government will provide them a new livelihood by providing training and financial aid.
After his speech, Duterte gave each of the workers who returned from Saudi Arabia 5,000 pesos as additional financial assistance on top of the same amount given by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the additional funds came from other government agencies like the social welfare department.
Meanwhile, the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Al Thani paid for the hotel bills of Filipino journalists who covered Duterte’s visit in Qatar.
When journalists of the Philippines Daily Inquirer and ABS-CBN network were about to pay for their stay at the Hilton Hotel Doha, they were told by the hotel’s staff that the Emir had already paid for it.
A room at the Hilton Hotel Doha reportedly costs US$300 a night.
It was the Emir’s staff that booked the Filipino journalists and 39 of Duterte’s support staff at the Hilton Hotel Doha.
Duterte and the rest of his delegation and staff were booked by the Emir’s staff at the Four Seasons Hotel and their stay there was also paid for by the Emir. GAC/Expat Media
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