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Monday, April 19, 2021

Qatar, Philippines sign $206 million in deals during Duterte’s visit

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Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim. Credit: QNA

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ended a historic visit to Qatar yesterday amid new deals to create nearly 6,000 jobs for Filipinos back home.

The official had arrived in Qatar on Friday, and signed four agreements with the Emir when they met yesterday.

They are in the areas of culture, health, investments and technical/ vocational training, QNA reports.

Signing of Philippine/Qatar agreements. Credit: QNA

Some 13 agreements were also signed over the weekend between private firms in the areas of health, defense and tourism, according to the Qatar Tribune.

The newspaper quoted the Philippines trade and industry secretary as saying the deals were worth more than $200 million.

Ramon Lopez added that there is also the possibility of a new investment agreement of up to $1 billion with Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund.

Huge crowd

On Saturday, Duterte rallied a crowd of more than 7,000 OFWs at the Lusail multipurpose hall, starting off by crooning a duet with local singer Hanna Uddin.

OFWs cheer for President Duterte during his first Qatar visit. Credit: Balitang Q/Facebook

GMA News reports that during the hour-long talk, the official reiterated his tough stance against the illegal drug trade in his country.

Duterte also reportedly again attacked former US President Barack Obama, boasting that he was the only one to have the guts to insult him.

Meanwhile he praised current President Donald Trump, also a populist leader, as a “realist” and “pragmatic thinker.”

Qatar was the last stop for Duterte, who also visited Saudi Arabia and Bahrain this week, before heading home.

‘Follow the rules’

More than 260,000 Filipinos now live in Qatar, and the majority of those who voted in the recent elections supported Duterte.

However, while many expats had been hoping the official would push for improved rights in Qatar, he did not speak much about this during his trip.

Photo for illustrative purposes only. Credit: 3dom/Flickr

Instead, he implored OFWs in Qatar to remember that their host country is “taking care” of them. And he urged residents to keep in mind, “There are rules to be followed. Just follow the rules.”

He also reportedly told Qatari businessmen during a meeting on Saturday:

“Qatar is a very important country for us as it protects the national interest of Philippines. Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos work here. We are ready to send more workforce if required.”

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