Duterte to visit Israel, Jordan next month
President Rodrigo Duterte is set to visit Israel and Jordan next month, Malacanang said on Tuesday.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte has accepted the invitation of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit Israel on September 2 to 5.
"The official visit will be the first by a Philippine President since diplomatic ties were established between the two countries 61 years ago in 1957," he said.
He noted that the friendship of the two countries started when President Manuel L. Quezon opened the doors of the Philippines as a sanctuary to an estimated 1,300 Jewish refugees who were fleeing the Holocaust.
Roque said several agreements are expected to be signed during Duterte's trip to the Middle Eastern country.
The two leaders are expected to discuss common concerns and ways of expanding cooperation in the areas of labor, tourism, trade, agriculture, counter-terrorism, security and law enforcement, he said.
Duterte will also meet with Israel President Reuven Rivlin to discuss development cooperation and the close historical and people-to-people ties between the two countries, he added.
Duterte will be accompanied with a delegation from the business sector and he will keynote a business forum in Israel, he said, adding that Duterte will also meet with the members of the Filipino community.
However, this early, human rights activist group in Israel reportedly have been asking Rivlin not to meet with Duterte whom its leader described as a "mass murderer and a person who supports rape, shooting women in their sexual organs and bombing schools."
Asked about the call of the Israeli human rights group to its President not to meet Duterte, Roque said, "good luck to them...if they persuade the prime minister to call off the visit, of course, we will call it off. No problem."
After his trip to Israel, Roque said Duterte will go to Jordan.
He did not give details regarding Duterte's planned visit to Jordan. Celerina Monte/DMS