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Duterte to ‘bring home’ some OFWs on death row

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte leaves for a week-long trip, which will take him to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Qatar

PHILIPPINE LEADER. President Rodrigo Duterte gestures as he reiterates that he is duty bound to protect the Filipino people in a speech on April 5, 2017. Malacañang file photo

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte said he will bring home some of the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who are on death row in the Middle East.

Duterte made the remarks in a press briefing at the Davao International Airport on Monday afternoon, April 10, shortly before his departure.

The President will be making a state visit to Saudi Arabia (April 10 to 12), Bahrain (April 12 to 14), and Qatar (April 14 to 16).

"I will fly them home. Pagdating ko dito, dala ko na ‘yung iba (When I return to the Philippines, I’ll be bringing some of them home)," he said. "Those who are given the permission of clemency… we’ll start bringing them back."

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Qatar all implement the death penalty, which Duterte wants to have reinstated in the Philippines.

Duterte will meet with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa in Manama, Bahrain; and Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in Doha, Qatar.

"I will seek their support for our efforts to bring just and lasting peace in Mindanao. I also look forward to exchanging views with them on regional security issues, promoting intercultural dialogue, and the Philippines’ efforts at community building in ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)," the President said in his departure speech.

"There is much at stake in the Philippines’ relations with the Middle East: It is the global center of traditional energy resources. It is a source of investments with potential [for] much growth. It is an expanding market for Philippine key products and services. And, it is home to the largest group of Filipinos working overseas," he added.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), there are 760,000 Filipinos in Saudi Arabia, 60,000 in Bahrain, and 250,000 in Qatar. Duterte will meet with members of the Filipino community during his trip.

"I am excited to see them and thank them for their support for our efforts to bring reform and change in our country," the President said.

Duterte’s trip to the 3 Muslim countries falls within Holy Week, the holiest week in predominantly Christian Philippines. – Rappler.com