President Rodrigo Duterte and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finally met for a bilateral meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.
Netanyahu accorded Duterte a warm welcome at the start of the Philippine President’s official visit. And Netanyahu told Duterte, “We remember our friends and that friendship has blossomed over the years and especially over the last few years.”
Duterte said in return, “Israel can expect any help that the Philippines can extend.”
Both Duterte and Netanyahu witnessed the signing of three agreements: Memorandum of Agreement on the Temporary Employment of Home-Based Filipino Caregivers, Memorandum of Understanding on Scientific Cooperation, and Memorandum of Intent on the Collaboration on Promotion of Bilateral Direct Investment.
Duterte complemented Netanyahu by saying, “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 our country to be destroyed by those who have a corrupt ideology of almost nothing but to kill and destroy,”
Since he became a President, Duterte has been accused of condoning human rights abuses in his deadly drug crackdown and has made controversial comments about the Holocaust. He drew outrage in 2016 when he compared his anti-drug campaign to the Nazi genocide of Jews in World War II and said he would be “happy to slaughter” 3 million addicts. He later apologized.
However, Duterte has denied condoning extrajudicial killings but has openly threatened drug dealers with death.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu hailed the service of Filipino caregivers given to Israeli families. He cited his very own experience. He said, “I am one of those families. My great father received incredible care by Filipino caregivers.
Netanyahu described his father’s caregiver as “a woman of exceptional compassion and intelligence and took care of my father’s every need.And when he passed away, she took care of his brother until he passed away,” he added.
Netanyahu said he was “deeply moved” by the care of Filipino workers.
The Philippine Embassy in Israel is home to 29,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) including 24,000 Filipino caregivers.
Philippine Ambassador to Israel Nathaniel Imperial said the bilateral labor agreement for caregivers would “ensure that the exploitative placement fees that are being charged to our workers would be substantially reduced, if not, eliminated.”
The private recruitment agencies will no longer be involved in the recruitment process,” Imperial said. “It will be a government to government agreement”, he added.
Netanyahu described the agreement that will surely benefit many Filipinos. He told to Duterte, “Today we’re gonna sign an agreement that would knock off as much as 12,000 dollars in the cost of every caregiver. This is good money that is taken away from the caregivers and the families, the Israeli families they so long deserve. This is an exceptional agreement.”
Part of President Duterte’s agenda was to really meet the OFWs which he mentioned at the height of issue when Magdalo Partylist Gary Alejano when he said that part of the President’s agenda is to undergo medical treatment in Israel.