(RIYADH, Saudi Arabia) – President Rodrigo Roa Duterte concluded his three-day state visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with a meeting with the Filipino community here at the Riyadh Marriott Hotel.
President Duterte said that he particularly chose Saudi Arabia as his first must-visit country outside the ASEAN region.
“It is of our national interest that I visit first the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Nandito yung karamihan ng ating — kayo — ating mga kababayan. You are not just citizens of the Republic of the Philippines, you are the assets. Ang ating gross national product is medyo malaki, part of the economy of the country, part of the money that is driving the economics of the country are the remittances that you sent to the Philippines. Importante talaga na makausap ko kayo,” the President said.
Saudi Arabia hosts the largest number of overseas Filipino workers in the Middle East.
The Chief Executive likewise considers Saudi Arabia as a very important ally that the Philippines needs to build good bilateral relations in the fields of the economy, trade and commerce, investments, and oil production.
“They are fueling our industries. Inuna ko talaga ang pinakaimportante sa ating bayan – Filipino workers, their welfare and the importance of establishing alliances,” Mr. Duterte explaining the reason for his visit.
The President also expressed his happiness for receiving the warmest welcome, by gamely doing a duet with a kababayan with the song “Ikaw”.
It was also the first time PRRD had a Q&A with an overseas Filipino community meeting; during which he disclosed that he would propose to Congress to have a Department of Overseas Filipino Workers, separate from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).