Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday thanked the Philippines’ role in providing a safe haven for Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust some 80 years ago.
During a meeting with President Rodrigo R. Duterte and the Philippine officials on Tuesday, Rivlin highlighted Israel’s relations with the Philippines dating back to the World War II, when the country opened its doors to Jewish refugees from Europe.
He said the Israel-Philippines relationship did not start 60 years ago when Israel raised the diplomatic relations with the Filipino people.
“It goes back 80 years when your people have opened your State to the refugees from Europe during the World War II at the time of the Holocaust when no one could be sure that he can live, the very first — the very day that he has lived along with,” Rivlin said as he welcomed Duterte at his official residence.
Among those who joined the President in the meeting with Rivlin were Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade.
Rivlin further said, “I must say that all those people who have found safe haven in your place are very much appreciated by us.”
“And we know that we have a very, very strong relationship now with you and your people. We both trying to protect and to defend our people against fundamentalism, against terrorism, and we assure that we can also cooperate,” Rivlin stressed.
Rivlin also recalled how Israelis rebuilt their country.
“In the last 70 years, we have built a country that can carry the burden of security, that can carry the burden of economy, in developing everything,” he said.
He said Israelis turned the many challenges into opportunities to bring the country in front of the entire world.
Duterte thanked Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the people of Israel for the invitation and the warm welcome to the Philippine delegation. Duterte committed to strengthen the country’s relation with Israel, citing commonalities.
“We have so many things in common. We read the same Bible and so that explains the more bond that exist between us,” he said.
Duterte also recognized Israel’s help during the Marawi siege.
“And the equipment that you lent us helped us a lot to win the war and shortened the period of fighting,” he said.
He highlighted the intelligence gadgets of Israel that used to defeat the enemies, which is why he said he intended to buy equipment for intelligence gathering.
Citing the latest bombings in some towns in Mindanao, Duterte stressed the importance of acquiring said equipment.
With the worldwide terrorism now, Duterte said, “it behooves upon Israel and the Philippines to cooperate more than ever to defeat the enemy which I think would never disappear in the next ten years.”