By Rodolfo Andal
PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has accepted the invitation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit Israel next month, Malacañang announced on Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. confirmed during a Palace press briefing that the President is set to make an official visit to the State of Israel on September 2-5, 2018.
According to Roque, this will be the first official visit by a Philippine President to Israel since diplomatic ties were established between the two countries in 1957.
“The historic event would highlight the enduring friendship between Filipinos and Israelis, which began when Manuel L. Quezon opened the doors of the Philippines as a sanctuary to an estimated 1,300 Jewish refugees who were fleeing the Holocaust,” he cited.
The Palace official said the two leaders are expected to discuss common concerns and ways of expanding cooperation in the areas of labor, tourism, trade, agriculture, counter terrorism, security, and law enforcement.
Roque said President Duterte will also meet with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to discuss development cooperation and the close historical and people-to-people ties between the two nations.
The President will be joined by a business delegation representing different sectors of Philippine economy, who will participate in a business forum at the sidelines of the official visit, wherein several agreements are set to be signed.
“Finally, the President will meet members of the Filipino community while there,” Roque added.
The Palace spokesperson also confirmed the President’s scheduled visit to Jordan following his Israel trip. Roque said these are all in line with the administration’s goal of further promoting its ties with peoples of the Middle East.
‘Palace welcomes Andaya statement on 2019 budget’
During the same press briefing, Malacañang welcomed the recent declaration of House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya stating the House will not move towards a reenacted budget amid the suspension of budget deliberations.
“I’m very happy with the declaration of the Majority Floor Leader… We welcome that as well… We join and commend Majority Floor Leader for this statement,” Secretary Roque said.
Roque then reiterated the Palace’s position that it also does not want a reenacted budget for 2019.
“We don’t want also a reenacted budget. We want the constituents of the Republic to benefit from the projects identified for the year 2019 by their duly elected representatives in Congress,” he stressed, noting that the Palace stands by the President’s cash-based budget for 2019.
On the other hand, the Cabinet official expressed hope that the “usual smooth working relationship” between the executive and legislative branches at the beginning of the 17th Congress would remain.
“We consider the House as an important ally in our discharge of official functions… This is the single most important job of the House of Representatives… When the Constitution talks about the budget originating from the House, this means this is the sacred duty of the House and we defer to them,” he said.