The opening of Israel’s honorary consulate in Davao City will encourage Israeli citizens to consider Davao and its environs as tourist, investment, or retirement destination, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said on Tuesday.
Speaking at the virtual inauguration of the honorary consulate, Locsin highlighted the significance of the ties between Israel and the Philippines that predates more than 63 years ago when the two countries officially started their diplomatic ties.
“The friendship and goodwill between the Filipino and Jewish peoples predate the formal establishment of bilateral relations between our two countries on 9 August 1957. Through the centuries, Jews from Spain came to the Philippines,” the DFA chief noted in his remarks.
In recent years, Locsin said bilateral cooperation grew by leaps and bounds, most notably in defense, labor, agriculture, and tourism through the mutual visa-free arrangements that facilitate people-to-people exchanges.
Israel is home to more than 30,000 overseas Filipino workers, mostly employed in the service sector.
“As both our countries work tirelessly to jump-start our expiring economies, the Honorary Consulate of Israel in Davao City has played an instrumental role. Its presence will encourage Israeli citizens to consider Davao and its environs as tourist, investment, or retirement destinations,” the country’s top diplomat said.
Locsin also cited Israel for being a “true friend” to the Philippines especially in times of crisis such as the mammoth devastation brought by Typhoon Yolanda in 2013 and up to the present time as it continues to provide assistance to help the country in its fight against COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019).
“Israel has, time and again, proven to be a true friend. In the aftermath of Yolanda, Israel was among the first to respond, sending dashing young doctors over. They had to land in Cebu and even my young cousins escorted them to the city — but that’s another story. During the current global pandemic, Israel provided personal protective equipment for AFP and PNP frontline workers, education equipment for DepEd’s blended learning program, and donated test kits to the DND,” he said.
Last month, Israeli Ambassador to the Philippines Rafael Harpaz disclosed that they are now in talks with the Philippine government for the possible hiring of an additional 1,000 Filipino workers to beef up its health care institutions for the elderly.