US, Israel congratulate Duterte
(The Philippine Star) - May 13, 2016 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The United States and Israel have congratulated incoming president Rodrigo Duterte and the Filipino people for the success of the general elections.

“Congratulations to presumptive president-elect Rodrigo Duterte and to the Philippines for record voter turnout,” US Ambassador Philip Goldberg said on his Twitter account.

“The successful elections in the Philippines, and its record-setting number of voters, are a testament to the Philippines’ vibrant democracy. The United States looks forward to continuing to deepen our bilateral partnership with the new administration as we address common challenges and issues of mutual interest,” the US embassy in Manila said in a statement issued yesterday.

The embassy also said it looks forward to the official conclusion of the electoral process for the many offices contested in the national elections.

Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo is still leading in the vice presidential race by over 200,000 votes against closest rival Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Since the vote counting is ongoing and Robredo only has a slim lead, the vice presidential race is not yet over.

Meanwhile, Israel thanked outgoing President Aquino and his administration for the friendship and support of the Philippines.

“We wish him and the outgoing government good health, happiness and success in their future endeavors,” said Israeli Ambassador Effie Ben Matityau in his speech at the celebration of the 68th anniversary of the Independence of Israel on Thursday.

Matityau also said Israel looks forward to working with Duterte and his administration “to further develop special friendship and relations in the future.”

Matityau noted that the relationship of the Philippines and Israel is not ordinary for Israel and the Jewish people because the ties started before the two nations  became  fully independent.

Manuel Quezon, the first elected president of the Commonwealth, came across the growing plight of Jewish communities under the Nazi regime.

On purely moral grounds and conviction, Quezon decided that the Philippines give refuge to Jewish refugees and made arrangements to absorb 170,000 of them in 1937.

“Unfortunately, politics and the start of World War II in the Philippines enabled only 1,300 to reach the shores of this country, saving them from certain death. Manuel Quezon’s goodwill was defined as the ‘open door policy’ and it was met with the open hearts and friendship of the Filipino people,” Matityau said.

Quezon’s policy and deeds earned him and the Philippines the gratefulness of a Jewish nation and gave Manila a moral victory at a time when the world was suffering collapse and defeat.

In 1947, the Philippines, under President Manuel Roxas, became the only Asian country in the United Nations to cast a vote in favor of the creation of the state of Israel.

“And that was a critical vote, which makes it possible for us to celebrate our national days ever since. So we have 1,301 good reasons to thank you Philippines – and friends in need are friends indeed became the foundation of our relations, and much has happened over the years,” Matityau said.

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