An Israeli firm has chosen not attend a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte, who is currently in Israel to enhance diplomatic ties and seek business and investment opportunities for the Philippines.
In a letter to the Israeli foreign ministry, Mino Negrin, CEO of Israeli water filtration firm NUFiltration Ltd said: “We are not willing to participate in an event which will be held in concomitant with Mr. Duterte’s (sic) visit to Israel.”
Negrin said the Filipino leader “offended our people several times by comparing himself to Hitler and his manners, in a way that cannot be accepted by the Jews.”
“While we acknowledge and cherish the collaboration between the Philippines and Israel, but under no circumstances we will give legitimacy to such an offense, regardless of the position of our government,” Negrin added.
Meanwhile. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Palace regrets the firm’s decision “because we think the Philippines is one of the best investment destinations.”
Nonetheless, the Palace Spokesperson is confident that many business leaders will still meet with Duterte in Israel in the afternoon.
“Interest among investors to invest in the Philippines remains high,” he added.
Duterte’s visit to the Jewish state comes two years after he compared himself to Germany’s Adolf Hitler and said he would be happy to slaughter 3 million drug addicts like what the Nazi leader did to Jews.
Human rights groups have slammed the Israeli government’s invitation to Duterte. Manila has largely ignored protests on the President’s visit to the Jewish state.
Already, several Israeli newspapers have also criticized the Filipino’s visit in their op-ed columns. A Times of Israel op-ed slammed Duterte’s human rights record and said “this man has no place here.”
Duterte has already apologized for his remarks, which threatened to damage six decades of diplomatic ties between the two nations.
Interestingly, the Israel views its ties with the Philippines as special as the Philippines provided refuge to around 1,300 Jews who escaped the Holocaust. The Philippines also cast a crucial vote in a United Nations (UN) resolution that led to the creation of the Jewish state.
Under President Manuel L. Quezon, the Philippines, reinforced the Commonwealth government’s open-door policy to accommodate the Jews who escaped from Europe between 1935 and 1941. Then in 1947, the Philippines, under the administration of President Manuel Roxas, cast the tie-breaker vote at the UN to separate Israel from Palestine.