Marcos back in Philippines after ‘successful’ Saudi trip

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Marcos back in Philippines after �successful� Saudi trip
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. meets with the Filipino community during his visit in Riyadh Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Friday night.

MANILA, Philippines — It was a “short but successful” visit, President Marcos said yesterday after arriving from Saudi Arabia where he attended the first summit of leaders of Southeast Asian nations and the Gulf states.

In his arrival statement delivered at the Villamor Airbase, Marcos said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Gulf Cooperation Council (ASEAN-GCC) Summit was a landmark event that provided the Philippines with an opportunity to project its longstanding promotion of a rules-based international order.

Such an order is essential to maintain peace, security and stability in the two regions, he added.

“I have arrived back from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia after a very short but I can say successful and productive visit,” the President said.

According to Marcos, the summit marked the first time leaders from ASEAN and GCC states met and tackled regional and international issues and agreed on the future of their cooperation.

“I highlighted, in particular, the ways that we can collaborate in the areas of energy, food security and the enhancement of logistic chains for the continued progress of our (interdependent) global economy. I underscored in this regard our commitment to the full implementation of the ASEAN-GCC Framework of Cooperation for 2024 to 2028,” he added.

Marcos said that during the summit, he advocated for the safeguarding of the rights and welfare of the more than two million Filipinos in GCC countries and called for their upskilling so they could meet the demands of the increasing digital transformation in the modern workplace.

“Let me assure you that we will continue to advance our national interests as we further expand our partnerships abroad,” he added.

The summit also allowed ASEAN and GCC leaders to express their views on the conflict in Israel and Gaza.

“I shared our hope for peace, that it should prevail and for the welfare and safety of civilians to be upheld in accordance with international humanitarian law,” the President said.

Marcos also reported the signing of a memorandum of understanding between EEI Corp. and Samsung Engineering NEC Co. Ltd., a joint venture between Samsung Engineering and Al Rushaid Petroleum Investment Corp.

Under the agreement, valued at $120 million, a 500-person capacity training facility would be established in the Philippines to upskill Filipino employees in various professions in the construction industry. Marcos said the facility seeks to train at least 3,000 Filipinos a year and more than 15,000 Filipinos in the next five years.

The trade department, the President added, reported three other business-to-business agreements that were discussed among Saudi and Philippine human resource companies for the training and employment of Filipinos across a wide range of industries, including health care and hotel and restaurant and catering and maintenance and operations, among other operations.

“These agreements are expected to generate more than $4.2 billion and an additional 220,000 jobs for Filipinos over the next few years,” the Chief Executive said.

During the visit, Marcos met with the Filipino community in Saudi Arabia and assured them of continued support and assistance.

He also had meetings with the Kuwaiti Crown Prince and the Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia.

Marcos said he and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia exchanged views on “issues of common concern.” He said he was hopeful that their countries could sustain the momentum of high-level exchanges as they expand cooperation in key areas.

“It was very encouraging because the Crown Prince made it very clear to me that the Filipinos will play a very important part in the continuing growth of their economy. And there is a new aspect to our relationship with Saudi Arabia,” the President said.

According to Marcos, the relationship between the Philippines and Saudi Arabia would become “a two-way street” as the Middle Eastern country would invest more in the Philippines.

“Whereas before essentially it was just for employment and we sent our people, our OFWs, now, they have extended that relationship and say that it is time that they bring investment to the Philippines and to support their food supply situation and to support the industries that they are going to expand and they are going to establish,” he said.

“They see ASEAN and the Philippines, in particular, as a very – as an area of very good potential for the development and transformation of their economy.”

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