Duterte leaves for historic trips to Israel, Jordan

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte left the Philippines on Sunday afternoon, September 2, for historic official trips to Israel and Jordan.

Duterte is the first Philippine president to visit both countries, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

In his departure speech, President Duterte said his trips boost the Philippines' vision of being a "friend to all, an enemy to no one."

Citing the "volatile situation" in Israel, Duterte said he will ensure that the estimated 28,000 Filipinos there "are fully protected." Duterte will be in Israel from September 2 to 5.

"My schedule will be full. I shall seek for a robust relationship that looks forward to broader cooperation on A broad range of mutually important areas – defense and security, law enforcement, economic development, trade, investments, and labor," Duterte said

The good ties between the two countries began when former president Manuel L. Quezon opened the Philippines' doors to around estimated 1,300 Jewish refugees who were fleeing the Holocaust.

Duterte, however, had offended Jews, sparking outrage around the world. He compared his anti-drug campaign to the Holocaust in a speech in September 2016. He later on apologized to the Jewish community

After Israel, Duterte would fly to Jordan, home to nearly 48,000 Filipinos, from September 6 to 8. He is set to meet with King Abdullah II.

King Abdullah is a cousin of former United Nations human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, whom Duterte has insulted on numerous occasions after he suggested that the Philippine leader undergo "psychiatric evaluation" for making threats against UN officials critical of the anti-drug campaign.

Large delegation

More than a hundred Filipinos businessmen would join Duterte, according to the Israeli embassy.

Members of the delegation include Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, and presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque, Presidential Political Adviser Francis Tolentino, and Special Assistant to the President Bong Go will also be there.

Outside the Cabinet, Senator Richard Gordon and Philippine Coastguard Commandant Elson Hermogino are also part of the official delegation.

Roque said Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra would be the government's officer-in-charge while Duterte and Medialdea are away. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com

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