Duterte confers Order of Sikatuna on outgoing Saudi envoy

Published June 14, 2021, 8:46 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

President Duterte has conferred the Order of Sikatuna, with the rank of Datu (Grand Cross), Silver Distinction on outgoing Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) Ambassador to the Philippines Dr. Abdullah N.A. Al-Bussairy, citing his vital contributions in strengthening the relations of the two countries.

H.E. Dr. Abdullah N.A. Al Bussairy, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the Philippines

Malacañang made the statement following Al-Bussairy’s farewell call on the President on Monday, June 14.

In a statement, the Palace said President Duterte thanked Ambassador Al-Bussairy for his vital contributions in strengthening the bilateral relations between the Philippines and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia over the last six years.

Ambassador Al-Bussairy thanked the President for the recognition, saying that it was “a singular honor and distinction” not just for him but for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as well.

Malacañang said during Al-Bussairy’s tenure, high-level exchanges and visits were conducted, including Duterte’s State Visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2017 and the visit to the Philippines by His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz Bin Saud Bin Naif Al Saud, the KSA Minister of Interior and a senior member of the Royal Family, in 2018.

President Duterte lauded the Arabian envoy for his active role in facilitating repatriation operations during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The President likewise conveyed appreciation for the Kingdom’s free COVID-19 vaccination to Filipinos as well as financial and in-kind assistance to the Philippine health sector.

The Palace said President Duterte commended the Saudi Government’s Labor Reform Initiative (LRI), stressing its importance in addressing labor issues connected with the kafala system.

The kafala, or sponsorship, system regulates the lives of millions of migrant laborers in the Middle East. However, exploitation, human rights abuses, racism, and gender discrimination have fueled calls for reform.

For his part, Ambassador Al-Bussairy extended to President Duterte the warm greetings from His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud.

He said the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia values its relations with the Philippines, assuring President Duterte of KSA’s continued support to the Philippines, including in international fora and in sustaining cooperation on migrant workers’ rights protection.

Ambassador Al-Bussairy also underscored the important contributions of Filipino workers to Saudi’s socio-economic development. He added that the Kingdom is working on increasing two-way trade and investments with the Philippines to help in the country’s economic recovery.