September 29, 2022

(SDN) — President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. should visit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.


At least three big reasons.

One, the Kingdom is one of the world’s, if not, the biggest producers of oil, two, the Arab country hosts a million-strong Filipino migrant community, and, three, has been a strong and reliable and resilient partner and friend of the Philippines.

Saudi Ambassador Al-Qahtani with NCMF Sec. MamondiongNational Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) Secretary/CEO Guiling “Gene” A. Mamondiong suggested this on Thursday, September 29, saying Saudi Arabia would be a great official trip Number 3 for the President after visiting neighbor Indonesia and Singapore.

The NCMF head gave the suggestion as Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan was in the Philippines on a quick visit. He was in the Philippines on Wednesday and left the next day.

Saudi Arabian English newspaper Arab News in a story with a Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), dateline, citing Saudi Press Agency (SPA), reported that the Saudi official met with the Philippine Chief Executive during his one day visit.

Quoting the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the report said the Prince extended to the President the greetings of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdul Aziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known by his initials MBS.

Arab News said the foreign minister the President “discussed bilateral ties and friendly relations between the two countries, as well as joint cooperation in various fields, according to SPA.”

The Kingdom’s top diplomat in the Philippines, Ambassador Hisham bin Sultan Al-Qahtani and Director-General Abdulrahman Al-Daoud of the Minister of Foreign Affairs Office attended the meeting between Prince Faisal and Marcos, Jr.

In suggesting that the President visit Saudi Arabia, Mamondiong said with Russia waging war against Ukraine the price of oil has been rising and there’s no let up in sight.

“The Philippines needs to talk to Saudi Arabia’s leaders and request them to give Filipinos a quota on oil that we can afford,” the head of the NCMF suggested.

“A million Filipinos are working in the Kingdom, sending millions of dollars to their family back home. Their remittances help keep the economy of our country afloat,” said Mamondiong.

He added that the Kingdom has been a reliable friend and partner of the Philippines.

There are also overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in jails in Saudi Arabia, both for major and minor crimes. “Our government should try to get OFWs with minor crimes to be released from prison,” he suggested further.

It also be remembered that the Kingdom has been helping the country in the Mindanao peace process, citing among others the Jeddah Accord forged in the mid-1980s, an agreement between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), he said.

“The President should visit, aside from Saudi Arabia, the five other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), such as Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman, where a massive number of OFWs are working,” said the NCMF secretary.

There’s also the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) with Headquarters in Jeddah, which is long been a major partner of the Philippines in the search for lasting peace in Mindanao.

“Let’s have a sense of urgency in reaffirming and strengthening our relationships and friendship with the Arab and Muslim world,” Mamondiong emphasized. (✓)