President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (Presidential photo)

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has thanked His Majesty King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa for granting royal pardon to 16 Filipinos in the Kingdom of Bahrain, including two who were pardoned on the occasion of Eid’l Fitr, a Palace official said.

Presidential Assistant on Foreign Affairs and Chief of Presidential Protocol Robert Borje bared this in a statement on Sunday describing the release of 16 Filipinos as “an act of humanity.”

“His Majesty King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa’s forgiveness paves the way for the release of these 16 Filipinos and their return to the Philippines in due course,” Borje said.

Borje said Al Khalifa’s decision to release the 16 Filipinos “provides renewed hope” and an “opportunity for our countrymen and women to build new lives.”

Citing Duterte, Borje also pointed out that the royal pardon is “testament” anew to the abiding ties between the Philippines and the Kingdom of Bahrain and the strong relations with Bahrain’s King.

“President Duterte values his friendship with His Majesty King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa and vows to continue working closely to further deepen bilateral ties and strengthen cooperation in areas of mutual benefit between the Republic of the Philippines and the Kingdom of Bahrain,” Borje said.

According to the Bahrain News Agency, their king recently issued a royal decree pardoning and releasing 154 prisoners.

It was not clear whether the 16 Filipinos were among the 154 prisoners released by the king.

Bahrain is home to more than 60,000 Filipinos who are professional, skilled and semi-skilled workers and household service workers.

In April 2017, Duterte visited Bahrain for the second leg of his visit in Middle Eastern countries to enhanced economic and political relations with the Gulf states.

He had just come from a visit to Saudi Arabia, which along Bahrain and later Qatar are Gulf States he visited during the Holy Week that year.

During his state visit there, the Philippines and Bahrain signed four agreements including setting up a joint commission on bilateral trade; avoidance of double taxation; strengthening of aviation links; and new investments. (PNA)