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DUTERTE ASSURES PARDONED OFWS IN GULF STATES

You’ll be home for Easter Sunday

/ 06:06 PM April 10, 2017
Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport after being repatriated from war-torn Libya Monday Aug. 4, 2014 at suburban Pasay city, south of Manila, Philippines. AP FILE PHOTO

FILE – Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport after being repatriated from war-torn Libya Monday Aug. 4, 2014 at suburban Pasay city, south of Manila, Philippines. AP FILE PHOTO

DAVAO CITY – President Duterte on Monday vowed to fly home overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who have been pardoned in different countries
in the Middle East as he embarked on his first trip to the Gulf States.

Mr. Duterte said he would bring back the first batch of OFWs who have been pardoned or given clemency by concerned governments in the region upon his return from a three-country official visit.

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The President will return to the country on Sunday, Easter Sunday.

“If given the clearance, I will fly them home. Pagdating to dito, dala ko na ‘yung (Upon arrival I’m bringing) those who were given clemency or pardon,” the President said shortly before departing for the Middle East.

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Mr. Duterte, who will be meeting the monarchs of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar, said his first visit would be “a mission to forge deeper, more meaningful and more positive engagement with the Middle East.”

“There is much stake with the Philippines’ relation with the Middle East. It is a global center of traditional energy resource. It is a
source of investment with the potential of much growth. It is an expanding for key Philippine products and services and is home to the
largest group of Filipinos working overseas,” the President said.

In Riyadh, the President is set to meet King Salman bin Abdulaziz to discuss about “ways to broaden cooperation in politico-security and
defense, trade and investments, anti-narcotics, labor, energy, education and culture.”

“It is and will be an important and valuable opportunity to reaffirm the lasting friendship” between the two countries, Duterte said.

In his meeting with Bahraini Emir Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Mr. Duterte said he hopes to expand the friendship and tap into converging interest in order to intensify trade and investment between Manila and Manama.

The President said he would seek greater cooperation and collaboration with Qatar as he visits Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani in Doha, particularly in the field of health and culture.

“I will seek support to our efforts to bring just and lasting peace in Mindanao,” Duterte said of his first visit to one of the biggest
economies in the world and where more than 2 million Filipinos work, adding he looks forward to exchanging views with them on regional
security issues and promoting intercultural dialogue.”

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Mr. Duterte is also scheduled to meet Filipinos in these states.

“I am excited to see and thank them for the support for our efforts to bring reform and change in our country,” he said.

With his scheduled meeting with the leaders of the three Gulf States, Duterte said an agreement aimed at providing more protection to OFWs against abuses is being considered.

Some 5,000 pardoned OFWs in the Middle East would be repatriated by the government, Duterte said./ac

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