President Ferdinand Marcos JR. arrived in Saudi Arabia on Thursday evening and vowed to push for better cooperation on energy issues and the enhancement and protection of the rights of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), among others, in a meeting with Gulf country leaders.
The President will join other leaders in the 2023 Association of Southeast Asian Nations – Gulf Cooperation Council (ASEAN-GCC) Summit that lasts for three days until Oct. 21.
Mr. Marcos sees the Summit as an important platform for the Philippines to highlight the need for cooperation in energy, OFWs, food security, logistics, supply chains, digital transformation, the free flow of goods, people, and services.
He will also push the country’s advocacy for a rules-based international order to maintain peace, security, and stability in the Gulf region amid the Israel-Hamas conflict.
The plane carrying the President and
the members of the Philippine delegation landed at 12:56 pm (5:56 pm in Manila) at the King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh.
Upon his arrival, Mr. Marcos was set to join a roundtable discussion with various Saudi business leaders.
Before his flight, the President highlighted the need for cooperation with Middle Eastern countries on energy, food security, and trade services.
Mr. Marcos also declared that he would introduce the Maharlika Investment Fund to the rest of the world during the summit.
“I would just like to make a comment because one of the important aspects of this trip will be for us to introduce the Maharlika Investment Fund to the rest of the world and certainly more specifically to the Middle Eastern countries,” he said.
The President vowed to push for the enhancement and protection of the rights of overseas Filipino workers, as GCC countries are home to an estimated 2.2 million OFWs working in critical fields.
Aside from meeting Arab business leaders, Mr. Marcos is also scheduled to meet with the Filipino community in Riyadh.
Foreign affairs officials said bilateral meetings with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are also planned.
Before leaving Manila, President Marcos vowed to push the Philippines’ interests in energy, food security, and trade.
“It gives us the Philippines a unique opportunity to advance our priorities in ASEAN under the ASEAN-GCC framework while forging closer cooperation between the two dynamic regional organizations,” Mr. Marcos said at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.
“This Summit will serve as an important platform for the Philippines to highlight the need for cooperation in energy and food security, logistics, supply chains, digital transformation, the free flow of goods, people, and services, as well as the enhancement and protection of the rights of our overseas workers,” he added.
The ASEAN-GCC Summit aims to enhance the security, economic, and socio-cultural collaboration between the two regional groups after more than 30 years.
In addition to the Philippines, other ASEAN member states attending the summit are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The GCC member states are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
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