President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday received the credentials of eight foreign diplomats in Malacanang.
Duterte welcomed Ilan Fluss in his second tour of duty in Manila, with the Israeli envoy revealing that he was also posted in the Philippines back in 1995.
“I thank your government for the hospitality and concern for the safety and well-being of the Filipinos in Israel. We are grateful for your timely COVID-19 assistance through vaccines, medical supplies, equipment and sharing of technical expertise and the best practices on pandemic response,” Duterte said.
“We look forward to even deeper, broader engagement with Israel in the years ahead, particularly in defense, labor and tourism,” he added.
Fluss cited the Philippines’ role in welcoming 13,000 Jewish refugees fleeing from the brutal Nazi regime and the Philippines being the lone Asian country to cast a vote in favor of establishing Israel as the homeland of the Jews before the United Nations in 1947.
Those deep ties, Fluss said, led to Israel giving priority to Filipinos in terms of capacity building and other technical assistance.
“We have welcomed 400 university graduates from the Philippines to train them in modern agriculture, as well as provided assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Fluss said.
“We have also recently opened defense and trade offices here, in addition to the consular offices in Davao City and in Cebu,” he added.
Duterte drew criticism in 2016 when he said that he would be “happy to slaughter” some three million drug addicts, similar to what Adolf Hitler did to around six million Jews during World War II.
The President later apologized to the Jewish community, saying that it was not his intention to derogate the memory of Jews slaughtered during that period.
Duterte also visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in September 2018.
Aside from Fluss, the other ambassadors who presented their credentials before Duterte were:
-Hisham Sultan Al Zafir Al Qahtani of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
-Michel Parys of Belgium
-Laure Beaufils of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
-Mohamed Obaid Salem Alqataam Alzaabi of the United Arab Emirates
-Marco Clemente of Italy
-Annika Thunborg of Sweden
-Leopoldo Lazatin of Malta
The President thanked the envoys for their countries’ assistance to Filipinos amid the pandemic. He also underscored the importance of deepening bilateral engagements. — VBL, GMA News