MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte was ecstatic that two of the detained overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Manama have already returned to the Philippines after being granted a royal pardon by the Bahraini government, Malacañang said on Friday.

In a press statement, the Palace said Duterte is extending his “deepest gratitude and appreciation” to His Majesty King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa of the Kingdom of Bahrain for pardoning OFWs Roderick Aguinaldo and Edward Benjamin Garcia.

It said Aguinaldo and Garcia can now build a new life following Al Khalifa’s decision to release them on the occasion of Eid’l Fitr.

“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte welcomes the release and return to the Philippines of two Overseas Filipino Workers granted Royal Pardon in the Kingdom of Bahrain,” Malacañang said. “Both Mr. Aguinaldo and Mr. Garcia are now back in the Philippines and will be able to start a new life with their respective families.”

Both Aguinaldo and Garcia were serving sentences in Bahrain for the death of a foreigner, the Palace said.

The Palace said Duterte also lauded the Department of Foreign Affairs; the Philippine embassy in Manama, Bahrain; Special Envoy to the Gulf Cooperation Council Amable Aguiluz V; and the Office of the Presidential Assistant on Foreign Affairs for their committed efforts that led to the eventual release and repatriation of Aguinaldo and Garcia.

In 2019, Duterte wrote a letter to Al Khalife seeking pardon for imprisoned Filipinos in Bahrain. The king assured Duterte that the appeal would be recognized.

On May 31, Duterte thanked the king for granting royal pardon to 16 Filipinos in Bahrain, including Aguinaldo and Garcia who were pardoned on the occasion of Eid’l Fitr.

Duterte considers the granting of royal pardon as a “testament to the deep ties between the Republic of the Philippines and the Kingdom of Bahrain and the strong friendship with His Majesty King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa,” the Palace said.

“The President remains committed to further strengthen Philippines-Bahrain bilateral ties across all areas of mutual interest, including in cooperation for the protection and promotion of the welfare of Filipinos in the Kingdom,” it said.

Bahrain is home to over 60,000 Filipinos who are professional, skilled, and semi-skilled worked and household service workers. (PNA)