Friendship between the Philippines and Jerusalem strengthens with bilateral agreements
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in his official visit to the Jewish state . The Philippine leader's visit to Israel on September 3 was the first in presidential history. In 1957, the Philippines signed diplomatic ties with Israel.

Jerusalem's Prime Ministerial Office gave a warm welcome to President Duterte, adding that Tel Aviv remembers the Philippines' exceptional role in receiving countless Jewish refugees at the time of the Holocaust. Netanyahu reminded the audience gathered at Yad Vashem Memorial, the monument dedicated to those perished during the Holocaust, that the Philippines was the sole Asian nation which voted for Israel state to be created at the 1947 UN resolution. Netanyahu added that Israel remembers her friends and the camaraderie between Israel and Philippines has only increased over time, and notably during the recent years.

The two leaders signed for their respective countries a total of three bilateral agreements. One agreement was a framework to improve the financial conditions for Israel's thousands of Filipino workers, and another was a MoU (Memorandums of Understanding) related to scientific cooperation. The third was another MoU on cooperation between the two nations in boosting bilateral investments.

Duterte, for his part, chose his words carefully. The Philippine President, known for his profane outbursts, was respectful inside the memorial grounds. He said that there should be no repeat of the Holocaust and despots should not be allowed to hold power in the modern world. It was a far cry when he compared his anti-drug campaign to Hitler and Jews. In another meeting, he praised the Israelis for the latter's fair treatment of Filipino caretakers. Duterte also gave a speech to the expat Filipinos in Israel.

The Philippines President thanked Israel for providing employment to approximately 28,000 Filipino workers. Duterte thanked Netanyahu for helping his country when it required it most. In his speech, he said both countries share an identical passion for peace and for human beings. The Philippine President then warned that both countries share the same passion for not permitting the country to be destroyed by a corrupt ideology, those who have no knowledge of anything other than to destroy. He assured Israel of Philippines' help if the former requires it. The corrupt ideology Duterte spoke about referred to the drug problem currently ravaging the Philippines.

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