NAIA Terminal 1, Pasay City
April 17, 2017

“Pinaka sa lahat, the most productive trip ever…” said President Rodrigo Roa Duterte as he spoke about his recent state visits to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kingdom of Bahrain and the State of Qatar, and welcomed back to the Philippines hundreds of repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) that he arranged to be brought back from Saudi Arabia, during his arrival statement at the NAIA Terminal 1 in Pasay City.

The President stressed, “It is to the national interest of the Republic of the Philippines that we maintain more than just a good relation between these countries. It is the national interest to realize, all of us, na merong more than a million Filipinos there…”

He added, “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar more than willing really to help the Filipinos,” and explained the region’s importance as a major source of conventional fuel and an emerging source of two-way trade and investment for the Philippines.

President Duterte also lauded Special Envoy to the Middle East, General Roy Cimatu, for doing an excellent job in ensuring the safety and protecting the lives of Filipinos in the region.

In gratitude to the contribution of OFWs in keeping the Philippine economy afloat during economic downturns and the significant contribution of their remittances to the gross national product (GNP) of the country, the President talked about establishing a simple general hospital in the Middle East to cater to the health needs of Filipinos in the area.

The President also promised, “We have an ongoing program for the repatriation of our distressed nationals. Pinapangako ko ‘yan sa inyo. Gagawin natin araw-araw,” and vowed to find a way to fund the program as part of the government’s appreciation for OFWs and their sacrifices.

The OFWs that President Duterte brought back were each given PhP10,000 from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and from the Office of the President (OP), plus an offer of training and capital in starting a small or medium enterprise (SME) as part of the program by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

The President was accompanied in the event by Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac, other Cabinet members and high-ranking government officials.

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