Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, much like his predecessors, is fully into his power as the country’s chief diplomat, and puts full use of it in shaping his foreign policy by making trips to other nations as he sees fit. These visits range from attending regional summits for ASEAN and other international associations, commemorations of bilateral diplomatic ties with the Philippines such as his September 2016 Vietnam state visit (40th diplomatic anniversary), and the usual trips for investment calls and visiting overseas Filipino communities. But this September President Duterte did history by being the first in his office to visit Israel.
CNN Philippines reports that on Day 2 of President Rodrigo Duterte’s state visit to Israel, Monday September 3, he has signed, along with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, three official agreements between their respective countries, on this occasion of the first visit by a Philippine President to that Middle Eastern nation. His signature to those agreements was joined by those of the most senior officials that are part of President Duterte’s delegation: Secretaries Silvestre Bello of the DOLE, Alan Peter Cayetano of the DFA, and Ramon Lopez of the DOTI.
To sum it up, President Duterte and Prime Minister Netanyahu co-signed three memorandums, a Memorandum of Agreement on the temporary employment of home-based Filipino caregivers, a Memorandum of Understanding on scientific cooperation, and a Memorandum of Intent on the collaboration on promotion on bilateral direct investment. No specific details were given regarding the contents of these official documents, but they do underscore what objectives the President laid out regarding his trip to Israel, which also has its own fair share of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW). The memorandum for scientific cooperation would help the Philippines tap into Israel’s growing tech and development sector, while the memorandum on bilateral investment is self-explanatory.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s latest overseas trip, which began Sunday September 2, will last for about a week and will visit the neighboring countries of Israel first, and the Kingdom of Jordan second. Diplomatic relations have been opened by the Philippines with both for several decades now, but this is the first time any President from the country has come to them. In addition to the official call on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Duterte has also had time to visit important landmarks in Jerusalem, including the Yad Vashem Memorial for the Jewish Holocaust victims of World War II. These happenings were all documented by Special Assistant to the President Bong Go.
During his meeting with the Filipino community in Jerusalem, part of President Duterte’s speech to them included an apology to former US President Barack Obama, particularly for his curse-laden outburst against the latter in 2016 for criticizing his anti-drug war.
Image courtesy of PhilStar.net