PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte has acknowledged the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for supporting the Philippines’ pandemic response and protecting the welfare of Filipino migrants, according to his office. 

Mr. Duterte expressed his gratitude to Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan during a telephone conversation on Tuesday, Malacañang said in a statement. 

The Palace said Mr. Duterte thanked the UAE for donating seven metric tons of medical supplies, personal protective equipment, and 100,000 doses of Hayat Vax vaccines that boosted the inoculation rate in the Muslim-majority Bangsamoro region in southern Philippines.

“We look forward to further working closely with the UAE as we continue addressing the challenges of the pandemic,” the President said.

Mr. Duterte also expressed appreciation to Abu Dhabi for looking after the welfare of almost 600,000 Filipinos residing in the UAE. 

Malacañang said Mr. Nahyan assured the Philippine leader that the UAE government will continue to take care of Filipino migrants in the best way it can, noting that the middle-eastern country benefits from their skills. 

The UAE was the second top destination for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), based on the 2019 survey conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority. 

Of the 2.2 million OFWs at that time, 13.2% were in the UAE.

Meanwhile, the two leaders renewed their commitment to further strengthen the Philippines-UAE bilateral relations and expressed solidarity in the face of threats posed by violent extremism. 

Mr. Duterte also emphasized the Philippines’ commitment to “international cooperation in combatting terrorism by all means in accordance with international law,” according to his office. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza