KSA, Philippines enjoy excellent ties
The Philippines is enjoying excellent bilateral ties with Saudi Arabia as it marks its 116th Independence Day anniversary today, with pride and patriotism welling up in the hearts of Filipinos in the Kingdom.
Working in the Kingdom, which they consider home away from home, the 674,000-strong Filipino community could see in the mind’s eye their elders who risked life and limb and shed blood but died before they could achieve what they fought for.
Over the years, the relationship between the two countries has grown from strength to strength since the start of diplomatic ties started in 1947. The two countries eventually agreed to establish diplomatic relations in 1969.
Saudi Arabia inaugurated its embassy in Manila in 1972 while the Philippines opened its diplomatic mission in Jeddah in 1973. Along with other diplomatic missions, it shifted to the Saudi capital in the mid-1980s.
As history has shown, the bilateral relationship blossomed. Collaboration has been established in various sectors for the mutual benefits of both countries — brothers in their own way — with Filipino officials visiting the Kingdom and vice versa.
The Kingdom has shown its friendship with the Philippines in various ways. The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah ordered a $10 million donation to relief and rehabilitation efforts for the victims of typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). The two countries also have common stand on international issues such as the Palesti9nian problem.
The two countries are now collaborating in various fields of endeavor — labor, trade, culture, investment, among others — for their mutual benefits.
In labor, a landmark accord was signed on May 19, 2013 when Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz visited Riyadh on May 19, 2013. Saudi Deputy Labor Minister Mufarrej Saad Al-Haqbani signed the agreement for the Kingdom.
The accord contained provisions which aimed to promote the welfare of Filipino workers — referred to as OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) — especially the so-called household service workers (HSW) who include the gardeners, baby sitters, cooks, farm workers and housemaids.
OFWs have shown their capacity to work hard, which has not gone unnoticed. In March 2013, Ambassador Ezzedin H. Tago called on then Riyadh Gov. Prince Khaled bin Bandar, who lauded Filipino expatriates for their well-earned reputation as efficient workers.
“For decades, the Saudi people have known Filipinos who have contributed to the national development of the Kingdom. They have shown respect for the culture and laws of Saudi Arabia,” he said.
The Filipino envoy also met with Labor Minister Adel Fakeih, also the acting Saudi health minister, who said that Filipinos are the among the most peaceful and least problematic communities in the Kingdom.
In trade, Saudi Arabia ranked 10th as the Philippines’ biggest trading partner in 2012, 31st as export market, up four notches from 2011when it was 35th and 8th as import supplier.
During the same period, Saudi Arabia both ranked first as the Philippines’ trading partner and import supplier, and ranked second as export market in the Middle East.
In investment, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s Kingdom Hotel Investments (KHI) infused a $200 million capital for the Fairmont Hotel in 2007 in Makati City. In the Kingdom, Filipinos have set up various establishments in cargo forwarding, restaurants, among others.
In the cultural sector, thousands of Filipino pilgrims have been traveling to the Kingdom to perform Haj and umrah. Last year, 8,000 Filipino pilgrims performed Haj, up from 6,000 the previous year.