Duterte to push anti-terror, anti-drug cooperation in Middle East
President Rodrigo Duterte will seek partnership in combating terrorism and illegal drugs as he embarks on state visits to three Middle Eastern countries next week.
Duterte is set to visit Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Qatar on April 10 to 16.
“On political cooperation, the President is keen on seeking partnerships in security, countering terrorism and combating illicit drugs,” Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Hjayceelyn Quintana told reporters in a Palace briefing on Friday.
Combating terrorism and and a drug-free Philippines have been the priority agenda of the the Duterte administration.
Quintana said Duterte would also discuss with Middle Eastern leaders the conditions of millions of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) working in the Middle East. She said “Middle East has been and remains the destination of choice of overseas Filipino workers.”
“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 cooperationm,” she said.
The foreign affairs official said 31 OFWs were in death row in Saudi Arabia and one in Bahrain.
She said there were ongoing talks with the Department of Labor and their counterpart about labor cooperation amid reports of Fiipinos being abused by their employers.
“(I)n the meetings of the President, that is of course one of the main topics for discussion,” she said.
Quintana said some cases of OFWs in death row “are very complex” but said the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs was handling the issue.
She added they would identify which ones “will be ripe … for clemency or for pardon.”.
According to her, Duterte was “aware of the nature of the cases that are being handled by the Department or by the Embassies.”
The President, she said, was also set to meet with the Filipino communities in the three countries he is set to visit. CBB
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