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  Home > Philippines

‘We Will Die For Them’

FIT AND READY – Soldiers in full battle gear march during the traditional military parade on the occasion of the 120th anniversary of the Philippine Army in Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City, Tuesday. (Jay Ganzon | Manila Bulletin)


 April 18th, 2017  |  09:59 AM  |   725 views



Duterte: Military assistance to Middle East is an expression of gratitude


President Duterte has assured Middle East leaders that the Philippines is ready to die for them should the need arise.


“Sabi ko, ‘tutulong ako sa inyo bilang pagbayad sa anong ginawa ninyo sa kababayan ko. Magpapakamatay kami [para] sa inyo,” (I told them that I will help them because of what they did for my countrymen. We will die for them),” he said.


“I will not elaborate on it but that is how it is. ‘Yung pinakita mo sa akin na utang na loob, babayaran rin kita nang wala kang masabi sa akin (But the kindness you showed me, I will repay it with gratitude),” he said.


National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, when asked earlier about the President’s comment on the Filipino troops defending the Gulf states, said that “if required to, defending means a lot of – it can be echelon, meaning it could be exchange of information, it could be direct coordination.”


Despite expressing willingness to provide military assistance, Duterte wished that the states in the Middle East will not have any conflict despite the region being troubled.


“You know, it’s a very troubled world there. I hope it would not ramble on to the states which do not want trouble. And these are the three countries that I visited,” he said.


Yesterday, President Duterte stressed that his commitment to send military assistance to the Middle East is his way of repaying the region for hosting overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).


“More than just anything else, I stressed the point that should the need arises, we will be there to help them,” he said in his arrival statement at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA-T1) before dawn Monday.


He, however, said he cannot talk about it to the public but only to the military but said this is one way of repaying the Middle East for giving  jobs to one of the country’s national interests – the OFWs.


“I will go where the national interest is. And part of that really on a global scale, that is why I promised them we have even defense and security arrangement,” he said.


National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. had earlier explained that the Philippine troops will not fight in the Gulf states and that the assistance extended will be in the form of training which is yet to be set up.


“This will probably take another six months to one year. This will be very selective and it will be probably be based on specialized courses or training,” Esperon said.


“There’s no such thing as a military operational deployment. Although in Bahrain, we are part of what we would call the Coalition Maritime Force. We send observers to that,” he added.




Duterte also tagged his three-country swing to the Middle East during the Holy Week as his most productive trip since he took office.


He has just arrived from his week-long state visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kingdom of Bahrain, and State of Qatar.


“Hindi ko masabi lahat kung anong pinag-usapan namin (I can’t disclose everything we’ve talked about) but the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Qatar were very much, more than willing really to help the Filipinos.


COMING HOME GIFT – President Rodrigo Roa Duterte obliges to a groufie with some of the repatriated Filipino overseas workers who arrived from Saudi Arabia. They were among those who received P10,000 each as cash assistance from the government at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1, early Monday. (Jun Ryan Arañas | Manila Bulletin)

COMING HOME GIFT – President Rodrigo Roa Duterte obliges to a groufie with some of the repatriated Filipino overseas workers who arrived from Saudi Arabia. They were among those who received P10,000 each as cash assistance from the government at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1, early Monday. (Jun Ryan Arañas | Manila Bulletin)


During his trip to the Middle East, the Philippine government was able to sign at least 10 agreements with the three countries including agreements on labor, foreign cooperation, health, culture, and technical and vocational education.


The last of these agreements were the deal signed between the Philippines and Qatar on enhancing investment promotion and protection, healthcare, education, and cultural exchanges.


Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said one of these four agreement, Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (IPPA), aims to facilitate the release of $1 billion of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund to various economic sectors in the country.


Aside from bilateral agreements, the President was also able to bring home 140 undocumented Filipinos or runaways from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia who availed of the Kingdom’s amnesty program for foreign workers since March, 2017.


He was also able to bring home US$925 million in investment from Arabian, Bahraini, and Qatari businesses that will generate 26,000 jobs in the Philippines.


Duterte, meanwhile, explained how it was important to maintain more than just a good relation with the countries in the Middle East as the region is of “great importance” to the country.


“It is the home of the largest number of Filipino workers overseas. It is our partner for our conventional energy needs. It is an emerging source of broader two way-trade and investments,” he said.


The President said that in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud agreed that it is in the interest of both our nations to uphold the welfare and well-being of Filipino workers.


“This is an area of partnership that we are keen on making greater strides,” he said.




He also shared his observation about the very little amount of discrimination in the Middle Eastern countries he visited compared to other countries he’s been to.


“Wala masyadong akong nakita [discrimination] unlike ‘yung, itong the pretentious ones. Mahilig sa human rights ‘yun naman pala sila, mga bigots (I have not observed any discrimination unlike those pretentious ones who push for human rights but are really bigots),” he said.


“But what I have sensed especially eh, doon (in the Middle East), nirerespeto ang tao (they respect people). There might have been some incidents but it can happen anywhere.


“Overall, all things being equal, wala akong masabi sa mga bayan na binisita ko (I have nothing to say about the countries I visited),” he expressed.


He also compared how different the culture is in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia compared to that in Bahrain and Qatar.


“Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a bit more regimented because they follow every direction of Islam. Pero ‘yung Bahrain at Qatar, wala (Unlike Bahrain and Qatar). You can move around and you can talk. You can sense that there is really a little of the freedom that the citizens enjoy which is shared by everybody,” he said. (With a report from Genalyn D. Kabiling)




by Argyll Cyrus Geducos


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