Saudi king hosts state lunch for Duterte in private palace
RIYADH—The Saudi royal family, led by King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, has high regard for President Duterte, who was invited by the Saudi monarch to his private residence, the Erga Palace, presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said on Tuesday.
Other foreign leaders who set foot in the Palace, decorated with pure gold and expensive gems, included US President Barack Obama, who came here in April last year.
There were no military honors for Mr. Duterte here, unlike during his visits to China, Malaysia and Cambodia.
The Philippine colors were also noticeably absent from roadsides leading to the airport and the Erga Palace.
But Abella said things that foreign governments had given to visiting dignitaries like Mr. Duterte varied.
“We learned that they have their own ways here. But I knew that they have high regard for the President,” Abella said, adding that instead of a state dinner, the king hosted a state lunch for the President.
Mr. Duterte’s spokesperson also said members of the Saudi royalty were so happy about meeting the President, “who is known for his decisiveness.”
“They have high respect for him,” he added.
Abella said the President’s two-day visit here was part of his pledge to meet overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), who heavily supported him in the 2016 elections. “That’s one of the reasons.”
Mr. Duterte got 76.55 percent of 46,652 votes cast by OFWs here while his closest rival, Mar Roxas, got only 4,890, or just 10.48 percent.
The President was scheduled to speak before some 1,000 OFWs at the Marriott Hotel here on Wednesday. If the President had his way, he would have preferred the number to be larger, Abella said.
But Abella said the Saudi government had decided to limit the size of the gathering in the wake of the bomb attack outside a church in Egypt and the increasing terrorist attacks elsewhere in the region.
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