President Rodrigo Duterte’s trip to Israel and Jordan reaped more than $143 million in investments expected to generate thousands of jobs, Malacañang said after the President arrived in Davao City Saturday.
The President, who arrived a day earlier than his official scheduled arrival, said the renewed friendship with Israel and Jordan was very significant to the country’s development, particularly for the improved welfare of thousands of Filipino workers in the two Middle East countries.
“In Israel, I met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who we identified ways and means of broadening cooperation to combat terrorism and transnational crimes, enhance security and defense, intensify two-way trade and investment and improve people-to-people exchanges,” Duterte said in his arrival speech Davao City.
“With President Reuven Rivlin, I discussed the need to improve technical cooperation, particularly in capacity and capability building,” he said.
In Jordan, Duterte met King Abdullah II where the two leaders identified the areas for concrete collaboration to address terrorism and extreme violence.
“Together with His Majesty’s Cabinet, we discussed ways to expand cooperation in two-way trade and investment, human resource development, interfaith dialogue and tourism, and other areas of governance,” Duterte said.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the multi-million investments was the result of business meetings between the Filipino and Israeli businessmen.
“They have also met about defense and security cooperation and of course, we now recognize Israel as major partner in the Armed Forces of the Philippines modernization program,” the Palace spokesperson said.
In a related development:
• A Palace ally lauded Duterte for engaging Israel and Jordan in the quest for peace and unity.
CamSur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte said Duterte also put on the spotlight anew the crucial role of overseas Filipino workers in his government’s inclusive growth and development policy.
“After successfully recalibrating Philippine foreign policy in training its focus on our Asean [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] neighbors and our major trading partners in Asia, the President has pushed the envelope once more by mooring his latest overseas stint to the message of global peace and unity,” said Villafuerte, who was part of the President’s delegation to his visits in Jordan and Israel.
According to Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, a total $82.9 million worth of private business agreements and letters of intent were signed during the four-day official visit.
Israel and the Philippines also signed three agreements, namely, a 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 on bilateral direct investment.
In Jordan, over $60 million in investment pledges were also secured by the Philippines.
Duterte and King Abdullah II witnessed the signing of five agreements covering labor, defense, and investment, among others.
The agreements were memoranda of understanding on political consultations, defense cooperation, labor cooperation, investment, and a memorandum of agreement between the Jordan Maritime Commission and the Maritime Industry Authority of the Philippines concerning the recognition of certificates under the Terms of the 1978 STCW (Standards of Training Certification and Watch-keeping for Seafarers) Convention.
Jordan also donated two Bell Cobra attack helicopters to the Philippines.
In Malacañang, Roque said the Philippines was now one of the most important markets for arms made in Israel.
The Chief Executive has been consistently saying that apart from enhancing the Philippines’ bilateral relations with its foreign counterparts, his main priority will always be the Filipino people, and this was also evident in his official visit to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
During the President’s meeting with King Abdullah II, he mentioned that one of his principal interests was the situation of the Filipinos in Jordan.
“Although most are in a good position, there are some who are still in the predicament of not having proper documents,'' the President observed.
In Israel, the signing of the agreement on the employment of Filipino caregivers will help address the issue of exorbitant placement fees that cost our OFWs anywhere from $8,000 to $12,000.
By any measure, this agreement shows the commitment of both governments to uphold the interests of Filipino workers, he said.
In Jordan, two labor agreements will enhance the standards of protection for Filipinos employed as household service workers and regulate labor deployment, exchanges, and communication and further studies on labor.
“As I have repeatedly said, your Government will continue to do its part to ensure that the rights of our nationals working abroad are protected, enhanced and upheld,” Duterte said.
“We also concluded a number of government to government and business to business sector agreements,” he added.