President Duterte of Philippines has praised and thanked the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his vital help in bringing the five-month old siege by rebels in Marawi. The leaders were meeting in Jerusalem as Duterte became the first President to visit the country.
President Duterte praised Netanyahu that the conflict on Mindanao Island could have prolonged and dragged across many more months, had Israel not provided with critical equipment without giving any further details of the same. This was the first time since 2017 the Philippine President had publicly acknowledged Israeli contribution in bringing an end to the siege in Marawi.
The siege of Marawi had started between May and October 2017, when various fighters from ISIL had taken over the city. The battle has since then claimed lives of over 1000 terrorists, soldiers and civilians. The siege had also led to massive displacement of many thousands of people.
Ever since the diplomatic relations were established between the two nations in 1957, this is the first visit by a Philippine President to Israel. President Duterte wants to improve defence ties between the two nations and is looking forward to an aircraft deal. Israel has already sold three radar systems and nearly 100 armoured vehicles to Philippines. In his address, Duterte stated, “We share the same passion for peace, we share the same passion for human beings. But also we share the same passion of not allowing our country to be destroyed by those who…know nothing but to kill and destroy”.
President Duterte also paid a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and also another monument which signifies Philippine rescue of Jews at the time of Holocaust. President Manuel L Quezon had granted visas to nearly 10,000 Jews from Europe in 1939 but only 1300 could successfully escape and reach Philippines. Netanyahu also acknowledged the fact that Philippines had accepted many Jews who had escaped from the Nazis and it was the only Asian vote in favour of establishing the state of Israel.
Netanyahu’s gesture of friendship to Duterte has put him under fire as the latter is accused of killing thousands in his anti-drug raids since 2016.