Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem as part of his official visit to Israel.
Duterte was accompanied by two Holocaust survivors who fled to the Philippines during the World War II and now live in Israel. Following his visit to the museum, Duterte will plant a tree next to one planted by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban during his recent visit.
Duterte wrote in the museum's guestbook: "Never again. May the world learn the lessons of this horrific and benighted period of human history. May the hearts of peoples around the world remain ever open. And may the minds of all men and women learn to work together towards providing a safe haven for all who are being persecuted."
In September 2016, Duterte compared crackdown on drug dealers and users to the Holocaust, saying that he would kill a large number of addicts as Hitler had killed a large number of Jews. "Critics compare me to Hitler’s cousin,” he said. “Hitler massacred 3 million Jews... there’s 3 million drug addicts. There are. I’d be happy to slaughter them."
>> Philippine President Duterte, an unwanted guest in Israel | Haaretz Editoral
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Duterte in Jerusalem on Monday, the second day of Duterte's four-day visit.
Following the meeting, Netanyahu said that relations between the two countries had been flourishing in recent years. Netanyahu noted that Filipinos had rescued Jews during the Holocaust, and that Duterte's trip marked the first visit by a Philippine president since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1975.
"We remember that the Philippines was the only Asian country that voted for the establishment of the State of Israel in the UN resolution in 1947," Netanyahu added.
"We’re going to sign here today three important agreements, in trade, in science and, no less important, in caregiving," the Israeli prime minister announced: The Bilateral Agreement for the Temporary Employment of Filipino Home-Based Caregivers in Israel, which will completely cancel all fees paid to agents; A Memorandum of Understanding on Scientific Cooperation to encourage and establish scientific cooperation programs; and A Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Encouraging Bilateral Investments.
"May we continue to be blessed with a strong relationship," Duterte said after Netanyahu spoke. "We share the same passion for peace. We share the same passion for human beings. But we also share the same passion of not allowing a family to be destroyed by those who [have] corrupt ideologies... In this sense, Israel can expect any help that the Philippines can extend."
Duterte landed in Israel on Sunday before attending at a closed event that evening in Jerusalem's Ramada Hotel. At the event, Duterte took the opportunity to justify remarks he made last week about rape.
In his speech, Durterte listed "democracy and freedom of expression" as justifications for his statement, "if there are many beautiful women, there will be many rape cases as well," according to a foreigner reporter who was in attendance. Israeli journalists, however, were not permitted to enter the hall.
"Trump is a good friend of mine. He speaks my language. Obama is a cold man," Duterte told the crowd. He went on to apologize for referring to the former U.S. president as "a son of a bitch."
Other aspects of his trip, though, had not been made public, including a visit to a display of advanced weapons and equipment arranged by the Defense Ministry, and the signing of an oil exploration license that is being granted to the Israeli-owned company Ratio Petroleum.
The Israeli company was the successful bidder three years ago for an offshore oil exploration license issued through the Philippine Energy Ministry, but the exploration concession has been awaiting Duterte’s signature for the past six months, a delay caused in part by reform efforts and criticism regarding permit and taxation policies.
As a result, senior executives at Ratio Petroleum sought assistance from the Israeli Foreign Ministry to facilitate the signing during Duterte’s visit, Haaretz has learned. The Philippine media have reported that the exploration zone holds major potential.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now