President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is set to undertake historical visits to the State of Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan from September 2 to 8, 2018.
During a press briefing in Malacañang on Thursday, August 30, 2018, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ernesto Abella said both trips would strengthen the Philippines’ diplomatic ties with both nations.
“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is undertaking historical visits from September 2 to 8 to renew and expand ties with Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan upon the invitation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan,” Abella said.
Consequently, President Duterte will be the first Philippine leader to visit Israel and Jordan, according to the DFA official.
“The visits will mark historic milestones, benefit trade, and strengthen relationships with key partners in the Middle East,” Abella said.
The Chief Executive’s official visits to Israel and Jordan is in line with the administration’s foreign policy of “friends to all, enemies to none.”
Such pursuit substantiates the Philippines’ independent foreign policy, which President Duterte aspires for.
According to Abella, during the President’s visit to Israel, a Memorandum Of Agreement on the employment of Filipino caregivers, a Memorandum Of Understanding on scientific cooperation in the field of science and technology, and a Memorandum Of Understanding between the Philippines’ Board of Investments and Invest in Israel are expected to be signed.
“In the future, we expect improvements in deployment procedures and the elimination of excessive placement fees imposed on Filipino workers bound for Israel,” said Abella.
Regarding people-to-people ties, Abella noted that the Philippines has been enjoying close historical, diplomatic, and humanitarian relations with Israel.
“We are celebrating the 81st anniversary of the open doors policy of the Philippines under then President Manuel L. Quezon, who offered shelter to more than a thousand Jews escaping the Holocaust in Europe,” he said.
“We are also marking the 71st anniversary of the United Nations Partition Plan, which the Philippines supported. It’s the only Asian nation to do so and that paved the way for the creation of the State of Israel. We are also commemorating the 61st anniversary of the formal establishment of bilateral relations between the Philippines and Israel,” he added.
While in Israel, the President is expected to meet with Filipinos who are working and residing there.
An estimated 28,300 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are in Israel.
Enhancing ties with Jordan
After his visit to Israel, the President will then visit Jordan from September 6 to 8. Jordan is home to 40,000 Filipinos.
Abella said the visit aims to improve the Philippines’ relations with Jordan in areas of cooperation including labor, defense, foreign affairs, and trade and investment.
He further said that there would be an agreement pursuing improvement on the working conditions of Filipino domestic workers in Jordan.
Also expected to be signed with the Jordan government is a Memorandum Of Understanding on defense cooperation. “We expect an upgrade of the country’s defense capabilities,” Abella mentioned.
Moreover, an investment agreement with the Jordan Investment Commission is anticipated to enhance the two-way trade investments.
Abella also said that there would be a mutual recognition of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping (STCW) for Seafarers during the President’s visit to the Arab state.
Abella also noted that President Duterte’s trip to Jordan would also be an opportunity to return the visit of the late King Hussein to the Philippines 42 years ago, which he said marked the formal establishment of diplomatic relations between Jordan and the Philippines.
Abella reiterated that strengthening ties with these two nations would promote economic growth, create opportunities, and improve security for the Philippines.
“A closer relationship with these nations means more opportunity to share expertise with each other in the fields of science, agriculture, industry, and counter-terrorism,” he added.