President Rodrigo R. Duterte delivers a speech during the turnover rites of the Armed Forces of the Philippines at Camp Aguinaldo on Friday where he discussed historical facts which led to the Mindanao problem and other issues relating to peace and order and the campaign for change towards ending hostilities with the CPP-NPA, MILF and MNLF. (Photo by Marcelino Pascua/PCOO/photo)

Philippines President, Rodrigo Duterte, has honoured Holocaust victims at Yad Vashem during an official three-day visit to Israel.
But his visit did not go without protests from human rights activists.
Standing alongside his daughter, Sara, who is Jewish, Duterte lit the eternal flame in the Hall of Remembrance and laid a wreath.
The Philippines leader wrote “never again” in the visitors’ book after the ceremony.
“May the world learn the lesson of this horrific and benighted period of human history,” he noted. “May the hearts of peoples around the world remain ever open. And may the minds of all men and women learn to work together towards providing a safe haven for all who are being persecuted.”
The 73-year-old’s comments were a stark contrast to his apology two years ago after shockingly associating his crime-fighting policy to Hitler’s mass murders of Jews.
After his outrageous remarks in 2016, Duterte acknowledged he was “terribly wrong” and did not intend to insult the memory of the six million Jews murdered under Hitler during the Holocaust.
Activists, Tag Meir, were unsuccessful in a plea to President Reuven Rivlin not to meet Duterte, the first by a Philippine president since the countries established diplomatic ties in 1957, and protested when they met on Tuesday.
Amnesty International organised the protest as demonstrators held up signs and shouted at his convoy when it arrived at the President’s residence.
“It is unthinkable that a week before Rosh Hashanah, a Jewish State hosts a man who compares himself to Hitler,” Tag Meir Chairman, Dr. Gadi Gvaryahu, lamented.
“You cannot hold both ends of the stick, to define the State as Jewish and to host leaders whose actions contradict Jewish values at the same time.”
President Rivlin noted long-standing relations between the two countries.
“This is an 80-year relationship that began when you opened your gates to the Holocaust refugees,” he said.
“Anyone who has found refuge in your country will never forget it.”
He added, “All of humanity, not only the Jewish people and the entire free world, felt that Hitler represented the devil himself, Satan on earth, and I have no doubt that you felt the same way during your visit to Yad Vashem.”
Regarding economic relations between the two countries, Rivlin said it was clear Israel and the Philippines could cooperate.
Duterte welcomed strengthening ties with Israel.
“We have a lot in common and this explains our relationship,” he said.
“You have helped our country in the war against terrorism and I hope to discuss future economic and commercial investments with you. There are many opportunities in Israel.”
Elsewhere, officials ensured Duterte’s itinerary was away from the public eye.
Trade, science and care deals were signed at an economic event in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu praised the Filipino community in Israel, 28,000 working in the care industry.
“There has been a remarkable phenomenon in Israel where thousands of families have taken heart from the support given by Filipino care workers to the elderly,” he told the Filipino leader.
“I am one of those families, Mr. President, my late father, who died at the age of 102, in his later years received incredible care by a caregiver from the Philippines, Lee, a woman of exceptional compassion and intelligence.
“She took care of my father’s every need. And when he passed away, she took care of his brother’s needs, until he passed away.
“I, like many, many Israeli families, am deeply moved by this show of humanity.”
Netanyahu said an “exceptional’ care agreement would slash $12,000 from the cost of every worker in the industry and heralded the friendship we are developing.
Netanyahu also recalled the two countries’ long association.
The Philippines took in Jewish refugees after World War II and was the sole Asian nation to vote for the establishment of the State of Israel in the UN resolution in 1947.
“We remember our friends and that friendship has blossomed and especially over the last few years,” said Netanyahu.
Duterte later observed an emergency simulation exercise at the headquarters of Magen David Adom in the city and visited holy sites.
The Filipino leader travelled on to Jordan for an official visit with King Abdullah.
Israeli Minister of Communications Ayoob Kara welcomed President Duterte on his arrival.
“Your country was the only one in the East that supported Israel’s independence and sided with us at the UN and UNESCO throughout the years,” Kara said.