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Dec 04th
Home Community RP Government Updates Qatar to Undertake Aggie and Fisheries Ventures In RP and Other News from the President's Office
Qatar to Undertake Aggie and Fisheries Ventures In RP and Other News from the President's Office PDF Print E-mail
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Communities - RP Government Updates
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 00:47

Q atar has expressed interest in investing in agricultural and fisheries projects in the Philippines, among other business ventures that are expected to draw more Qatari investments to the country.


No less than the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, told President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of his country's interest in undertaking agricultural and fisheries ventures in the Philippines during their bilateral meeting at the Emiri Diwan Royal Palace on Sunday.

During their meeting, President Arroyo also extended a formal invitation to the Emir to visit the Philippines, to which he gladly accepted. No dates, however, have been set but the Emir's Philippine visit is expected to materialize next year.

Qatar, which imports most of its agricultural requirements from various countries, is strengthening its economy by diversifying into new asset classes.  The diversification program is being carried out by the government-owned Qatar Investment Authority (QIA).
The President immediately directed the Department of Agriculture (DA), through DA Secretary Arthur Yap, to come up with the needed project proposals that would respond to Qatar's requirements.

Qatar has taken the first big step toward what is expected to be a growing presence in Philippine business and trade when it entered into a joint venture with Qatar Telecom (Telcom) in the wireless broadband business.

The joint venture, which was signed Sunday (Dec. 14) as part of President Arroyo's three-day visit here, joins the Philippines’ biggest diversified company and Qtel, Qatar's biggest telecommunications firm, under one group in their Southeast Asian operation.

The strategic partnership will set the course for the two companies to begin exploration of joint opportunities in the wireless broadband, mobile and mobile broadband sectors in the Philippines.

The government-owned Qtel operates in 16 countries and is "already actively engaged in extending its wi-tribe brand, which supports the provision of broadband wireless services for emerging markets. Wi-tribe has already realized significant success in providing Wi-MAX services in Jordan, and is in the process of rolling out new offerings for Pakistan," a company statement issued Sunday said.


* * * *

PGMA to bring home $1 billion in new investments after 3-day official visit to Qatar

DOHA, Qatar (via PLDT) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo winds up today her three-day official visit here confident that the trip has generated for the Philippines US$1 billion in new investments, and raised to another level the friendly relations of the Philippines with Qatar, a leading destination of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

She leaves at noon (Monday, Dec. 15) on her return flight to the Philippines with a three-hour stopover in Abu Dhabi.

The President held various meetings with chief executive officers (CEOs) of several private companies employing Filipino workers as well as government officials, including executives of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) whom she asked to look into the prospect of doing business in the Philippines.

A state investment arm headquartered in this sprawling Middle East metropolis, the QIA serves as the spearhead of Qatar's investment expansion binge backed by the emirate's huge wealth from Qatar’s natural resources.

Awash with cash from its oil and natural gas exports, Qatar has launched a strong investment drive abroad while pursuing a massive construction program at home.

"As a world-class investor, the QIA adheres to the strictest financial and commercial disciplines. It has a strong track record of investing in different asset classes, including listed securities, property, alternative assets and private equity in all the major capital markets as well as the new emerging markets," says a backgrounder on the investment authority.
Senior Qtel executives met with the President on Sunday (Dec. 14) to discuss potential areas of cooperation in Qtel's undertaking to extend access to broadband internet technology in the Philippines.

After the meeting, Qtel and SMC signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the expansion and consolidation of the group's Southeast Asia operation.  Ramon Ang, chief executive officer and president of San Miguel Corp., signed the MOU on behalf of his company, while Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammad Bin Saud Al-Thani, Qtel chairman, signed for Qtel.

Under the Qtel-SMC agreement, SMC will own 60 percent of the joint venture to Qtel's 40 percent. Qtel will put in an initial investment of US$150 million, but this will be raised to US$1 billion after one year.

After the formal signing of the accord, Qtel issued an upbeat statement view on its forthcoming Philippine operations, saying it sees a huge growth and expansion potential for the advanced telecommunications industry in the Philippines.

We are extremely grateful for the opportunity to meet with President Macapagal-Arroyo. Qtel has looked to increase its profile within the Republic of the Philippines and the environment appears increasingly open to external investment and the provision of communication services," said Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammad Bin Saud Al-Thani, Qtel chairman.

He added: "We see huge opportunities for growth and partnership within the Philippines and this meeting provided an important opportunity for Qtel to communicate its ambitions and its obligations to the people" of the Philippines.

Qtel, which is operating in 16 countries including in Southeast Asia, is vying for a slot among the top 20 telecommunications companies in the world by 2020.

A telecommunications service provider, Qtel is licensed by Qatar's Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology to provide both fixed and mobile telecommunications services in the state of Qatar.

San Miguel, on the other hand, is the largest publicly listed food, beverage and packaging company in Southeast Asia with more than 15,000 employees in over 100 facilities throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Qtel's tie-up with San Miguel is the biggest investment thus far by a Qatari company in the Philippines or in a Philippine-based business conglomerate. Up until the Qtel-SMC deal, Qatari investments in the Philippines were concentrated on human services, notably in the manpower supply sector, or the recruitment of Filipino workers for the Middle East.

But the President's meeting with Qatar business executives brought to the fore the untapped markets in Qatar and other Gulf countries for such Philippine products as mango -- a favorite fruit here -- fresh as well as processed Filipino food.

* * * * *


OFW deployment ban stays 

DOHA, Qatar (via PLDT) – The ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Nigeria, Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon stays.

This was the consensus reached yesterday (Dec 13, Saturday) during the meeting called by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo with Philippine ambassadors to Middle East countries at the Sheraton Doha Hotel and Resort here on the first day of her three-day official visit to Qatar.

The President called the meeting to assess the situation in the five countries because of concerns over the safety and wellbeing of the Filipino workers if and when the deployment ban is lifted.

Assistant Press Secretary Romeo Montenegro explained that the President’s main concern is the safety of Filipino workers.

The five countries are in need of thousands of foreign workers but President Arroyo stressed that despite the numerous job opportunities, Filipino workers will not be allowed to seek employment in the five countries, particularly Nigeria.

The government will not compromise the security of Filipino workers, said Montenegro who added that the President had directed Ambassador Roy Cimatu, special Philippine envoy to the Middle East, to come up with an assessment of the situation in the five countries.

Cimatu’s report will be discussed this coming March during the review of the situation in the five countries.

As for Syria, the Philippines will formally open an embassy in Damascus this February under Ambassador Wilfredo Cuyugan to better serve the needs of the 15,000 OFWs in that country, 80 percent of whom are undocumented.

* * * * *


Filipino workers get excellent grade in Qatar

DOHA, Qatar -- (via PLDT) -- Filipino workers here are getting excellent grades for reliability, skill, industry and professionalism.

The rave review of OFWs came from the chief executive officers (CEOs) and other top officials of 27 Qatar-based companies employing Filipinos during the "appreciation lunch" with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at the Sheraton Doha Hotel and Resort on Saturday (Dec. 13), shortly upon her arrival here at noon yesterday.

The President is on a three-day official visit to this Middle East boom town to look into the plight of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), enlist the support of Qatar's leadership in the Mindanao peace process, and discuss issues of mutual concern to the two countries.

Accompanying her are Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila, Finance Secretary Margarito Teves, Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes, Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman, Office of the Presidential Assistant on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Hermogenes Esperon Jr., and a small group of members of the House of Representatives.

From the Qatar International Airport here, the President went straight to the Sheraton Doha Hotel for the meeting with the CEOs who represent a cross-section of the leading international business conglomerates operating in Qatar.

Among the leading companies represented in the luncheon meeting with the President were the US-based engineering giant Bechtel Corporation, Al Ahli Hospital, Sterling Group of Companies, Midmac Contracting, and Doha Resort and Convention Center.

Bechtel Doha Chief Executive Officer (CEO)/Project Manager Laremy Estrada cited Filipino workers for their reliability, industry and overall skill.

Mr. Estrada said Filipinos were highly trainable, efficient and trustworthy. He added that 65 percent of Bechtel’s workers in the construction of the new Doha International Airport are Filipinos.Bechtel, a towering presence in the Middle East construction sector, won the contract for engineering, project and construction management of the US$2.5-billion new Doha International Airport.

When completed, the new air terminal can accommodate 24 million passengers and 750,000 metric tons of cargo annually.

Other executives of companies operating in Qatar echoed Estrada’s praises for Filipino workers in Qatar, with one CEO saying his company would be at a loss looking for workers as reliable, hardworking and skilled as his Filipino employees.

Estimates of the number of OFWs in Qatar vary from a low of 150,000 to a high of more than 200,000. Labor Secretary Marianito Roque’s own figure is 190,000.

President Arroyo thanked the company officials for hiring Filipino workers and protecting their rights and privileges under the International Labor Organization (ILO) mandate.

She said the Philippine government would act immediately on problems cited by the CEOs, including delays in the registration of labor recruitment permits and the need for stepped-up training for Filipinos seeking employment abroad.

The President pointed out that her administration has launched a P3-billion scholarship program to equip Filipinos with the needed expertise for frontline services not only abroad but also in the Philippines.

* * * * *

PGMA met by Qatar Emir himself at Qatar Int`l Airport

DOHA (via PLDT) - President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo arrived here Saturday noon with no less than the Emir of Qatar, His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, welcoming her at the Qatar International Airport (QIA), setting the tone for what is expected to be a fruitful  official visit.

Philippine diplomatic sources here said the Qatari leader does not always personally greet visiting foreign dignitaries at the airport - the welcome for President Arroyo was an exception.

Before leaving here, the President said she was visiting the Middle East to seek the counsel and support of Qatar in the search for an end to the decades-old Muslim separatist rebellion in Mindanao, invite Qatari businessmen to invest in the Philippines, and look into the plight of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in this constitutional emirate.

Minutes after the President`s arrival at the airport, business started right off. She said that on their way to the VIP Room of the QIA, the Emir mentioned to her the recently signed Additional Protocol to the 1997 RP-Qatar Agreement on the Regulation of Filipino Manpower  Employment in the State of Qatar.

Signed on Oct. 19 this year by Philippine Labor Secretary Marianito Roque and Qatar Minister of Labor Sultanbin Hassan Al Dhabit Al-Dosari, the additional protocol sets the mechanisms for the enforcement of regulations on the protection of the welfare of OFWs in Qatar.

“Maraming provision itong protocol. Pero ang isang gusto ko lang banggitin na kasama nitong protocol na ito ay merong natutukoy na tamang forum kung saan maidudulog at maiaayos ang hinaing ng ating mga expatriate workers,” the President said.

Roque had explained that the agreement with Qatar will also open the way for additional benefits for Filipino expatriate workers in Qatar and address the problem of contract substitution.

Contract substitution generally means the reduction of agreed-upon salary in the original contract when the worker arrives in the employing country.

Estimates of Filipino workers in Qatar range from 150,000 to 200,000, but Roque himself has placed the figure at 190,000.
This year alone, OFW deployment in Qatar has reached 56,277, making the constitutional emirate the 4th biggest destination of Filipino workers worldwide and the third in the Middle East after Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

* * * * *


NEW YORK—The Philippines has called on the United Nations to assert its power and might to confront and demolish terrorism in any part of the world even as it sought progress in the world body's efforts to come up with a universally accepted definition of terrorism.
"We must resist the temptation to attribute to terrorism some mythic magnitude that makes it larger than life. Terrorism is man-made. Therefore it can be solved by men and women of resolve," Ambassador Hilario G. Davide, Jr., Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations said in his statement before an open debate of the Security Council on Tuesday, 9 December.
''There is one body much greater than the men and women of resolve. It is the United Nations of 192 member states. It does not only have the resolve, it has the will, the power, the might and the resources to counter and solve terrorism and face to demolish, if it wishes to, every act of terrorism in any part of the globe."
"With the deadly tentacles of terrorism spreading over many places, the latest of which was in Mumbai, India, the United Nations must now, more than ever, assert its power and might," he said.
At the same time, Ambassador Davide expressed hope that further progress could be made in efforts to define terrorism. 
"There should now be a universally accepted definition of terrorism and a condemnation thereof as a crime with a recognition of the criminal intent of striking fear and terror," he said.
The Philippine envoy noted that although progress has been made, the Ad Hoc Committee established by the General Assembly to draft a comprehensive convention on international terrorism is meeting some disagreements among member-states regarding the scope of the convention.
"This convention can be the proper document for the definition of terrorism," the former Philippine Supreme Court Chief Justice said.
Ambassador Davide said the United Nations lost its first opportunity to define the crime of terrorism when the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) was deliberated upon and approved by 160 member states. He said that statute could even have included terrorism as one of the crimes cognizable by the ICC.
In his statement, Ambassador Davide reiterated his call for national legislatures to enact laws defining and punishing terrorism as a crime that could be treated as "crime in violation of the laws of nations."
He said this will not only make applicable the doctrine of universal jurisdiction but will also provide for concurrent jurisdictions between international courts and domestic courts and allow the latter to yield jurisdiction to international courts according to treaty obligations.
The ambassador said that among the strong and effective deterrents to the commission of crimes are the expeditious prosecution and trial of cases against the offenders and rendition of just, fair and impartial judgment
"Delays in the prosecution, trials and judgment against terrorists will give wrong signals to them and their co-conspirators. These would either embolden them to assert their strength and make a mockery of the weakness of the processes against them or give them reason to claim that their comrades in detention are deprived of due process and then instigate the escalation of their terroristic acts.
"Continuous trials of these cases must be a standard practice, In this regard, the United Nations must do something," Ambassador Davide added.

* * * * *

RP and Qatar expected to reach consensus on six proposed bilateral agreements

DOHA (via PLDT) -- The three-day official visit here of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is expected to breathe new life to pending negotiations for Philippine-Qatari agreements on various issues to further strengthen the relations between the two countries.

The pending agreements cut across a range of issues of mutual interest, including investments; economic and technical cooperation; tourism; educational and cultural cooperation, and combating transnational organized crime.

An “overview” of the two countries’ relations issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) showed that since the establishment of diplomatic Philippine-Qatar relations in May 1981, the two countries have forged seven bilateral agreements.

Among the existing accords are those on air services; economic, commercial and technical cooperation; Filipino manpower deployment; establishment of joint ministerial commission for bilateral cooperation, and a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on mutual recognition of certificates in accordance with the International Convention on Standard of Training, Certification and Watch Keeping for Seafarers.

The latest agreement -- an Additional Protocol to the 1997 RP-Qatar Agreement on the Regulation of Filipino Manpower Employment in the State of Qatar -- was signed here in October this year.

With their relations heightened by the existing bilateral accords, the Philippines and Qatar are moving forward toward forging of more substantive agreements.

Under negotiations are proposed agreements on the reciprocal promotion and protection of investments; avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income; commercial protocol to the 1997 RP-Qatar agreement on economic, commercial and technical cooperation; educational cooperation; and cultural cooperation.

Also still under negotiations are a proposed memorandum of agreement (MOA) on health cooperation; MOA on cooperation to combat transnational organized crime; agreements on the waiver of visa requirements for holders of diplomatic official and special passports, and a MOA on agricultural and fisheries cooperation.Negotiations for the proposed agreement on the reciprocal promotion and protection of investments were held on Jan. 21-23 this year in Manila, but both sides failed to resolve differences over the draft accord.

Negotiators for both sides agreed to consult their “respective authorities and to continue negotiations via an exchange of notes.”

Likewise, the proposed agreement on avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income has yet to be concluded. But in all cases of the pending agreements, the two governments to pursue efforts to reach a consensus and, finally, come up with the accords, signed and sealed.


* * * * *

RP stands to benefit from its relations with Qatar in all levels

DOHA (via PLDT) -- The Philippines stands to gain enormous benefits from its growing friendly relations with oil-rich Qatar, the fourth top country destination of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) worldwide and the third among Middle East nations, after Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Fueled by its natural gas and oil revenue, Qatar’s economy is booming and needs manpower from foreign countries to sustain the massive economic surge.

Qatar owns the third largest natural gas reserves in the world after Russia and Iran, among its outstanding economic statistics. Its economy is rated as the second most competitive among Middle Eastern countries aside from having one of the highest gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in the world at $US 61,895 as of 2006.

The constitutional emirate is also pouring billions into private and foreign investments in non-energy sectors in tandem with the development of its non-gas reserves.

At an estimated 25 trillion cubic meters, the country’s natural gas reserves constitute roughly 15 percent of the world’s total.

In her meetings with Qatari officials and business leaders during her three-day official visit here starting today, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will have a ringside view of Qatar’s unprecedented building boom and a boardroom-kind of insight into the prospects and possibilities open to the Philippines stemming from the heightened friendly relations between the Philippines and Qatar.

Estimates of OFWs in this country range from 150,000 to 200,000. The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has taken the more conservative estimate of 150,000 based on its records as of Dec. 2007. The DOLE figures were culled from the records of Qatar’s Ministry of Labor.

The number continues to grow. Last year, DOLE deployment statistics showed 56,277 new hires, up by 22.89 percent over the 2006 figure of 45,795. Of the new hires in 2007, the bulk of the workers belonged to the service, transport ant and production groups.

Other hires consisted of administrative and managerial personnel, agricultural workers in such fields as husbandry, forestry and fishery; sales workers; professional technical and related works.

The DOLE said Filipino workers face bright prospects in energy projects, which would require the services of engineers, controllers, inspectors, professional and other skilled personnel.

In the midst of an unprecedented real estate boom, Qatar needs engineers, architects, interior decorators/designers, mechanical, electrical and plumbing personnel, and marble, granite and ceramic tile setters, DOLE said.

The country’s tourism/hotel and retail sector is also beacon. “Due to growing population and high levels of income, the tourism industry in Qatar is progressing and the construction of hotels as well as franchised restaurants is a sign of the country’s desire to become a major force in the
hospitality industry that would mean the need” for hotel personnel and service crew, DOLE said.

But some kinks in Qatar’s hiring policy needs to be threshed out. “The policy of host country on sponsorship being practiced by employers pose a hindrance for the employment of our professional and skilled workers in the labor industry. This must be therefore addressed by our government and the host government with dispatch to improve the well-being and opportunity of our workers and their retention by the host country for their much-needed quality services,” the DOLE report said. # # #

Updates released by the Philippine Consulate General
3600 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 500
Los Angeles, CA 90010
Tel. (213) 639-0980/Fax (213)639-0990
Website –


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Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 December 2008 00:47

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