Ramada Hotel, Jerusalem
September 2, 2018

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, together with his delegation, was warmly welcomed by about 1,400 Filipinos in a Filipino Community Meeting at the Ramada Hotel in Jerusalem.

Accepting the loud cheers from the ecstatic crowd of Filipinos in the venue, President Duterte disclosed that this was the first time he cried in a foreign visit.

“Alam mo bihirang-bihira ako umiiyak. Lalo na nung — I could remember maybe the times that I cried, when my father and mother died. But rare, very rare. Ito lang ang bisita ko na maybe I will do it again, I really do not know. But this is the first time napaluha ako na nandito ako sa aking mga kababayang Pilipino,” he said.

In his speech, President Duterte conveyed his gratitude to the State of Israel for inviting him to visit the Holy Land and for hosting many Filipinos in the State.

“I have yet to hear any — any na problema manggaling man sa anu-anong klaseng Pilipino nandito… The second is I’m here because of the sheer number of Filipinos and I would like to just have a dialogue with the government. Tingnan ko kung anong maitulong ko para to better manage the huge number of my countrymen here,” he added.

President Duterte once again expressed his strong conviction to stop the proliferation of illegal drugs in the Philippines and sympathized with the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who are sending finances to their families back to the country, only to discover that their children are addicted to illegal drugs.

The Chief Executive also took time to introduce his Cabinet members and the other officials with him before the Filipino community, and vowed to curb corruption in his government.

Throughout the 61 years of formal diplomatic relations between the Philippines and the State of Israel, President Duterte is the first Philippine Chief Executive who visited the State.

According to H.E. Nathaniel Imperial, Philippine Ambassador to Israel, there are around 28,000 – 29,000 Filipinos working and residing in the State, of which 24,000 are working as caregivers.