PH-Israel collaboration on water management eyed after Marcos meets envoy
MANILA, Philippines — Talks of a possible collaboration on water management between the Philippines and Israel were raised during the meeting between President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Israeli Foreign Minister Eliyahu Cohen, the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said on Tuesday.
In a statement, PCO said that Cohen raised the possibility during his meeting with Marcos on Monday, given Israel’s experience in water management as it dealt with water problems due to scarcity.
PCO said that Cohen suggested that an expert visit the Philippines to provide advice, which Marcos warmly received.
“Because when we look at the economy as hard to just test, we said how do we fix the economy. It always comes down to agriculture first, how to fix every policy, then everything else would be great. So that’s the position that we find ourselves in,” Marcos said.
“So, the offers that you make for assistance and partnership in those two areas are very, very welcome,” he added.
Aside from water management, Cohen also mentioned possible agricultural assistance to ensure food security, which has been a focus of Marcos’ programs ever since he took office.
“I think that we can work together on the segment of agriculture. I just let you know that our land, 60 percent of our land is desert. But although 60 percent of our land is desert, we were able to provide all our water needs,” Cohen said.
“And I think that we can work together and let’s say that less import, more export for the Philippines. And I think that we can work together,” he added.
The Israeli minister also brought up the talks of establishing direct flights between the Philippines and Israel to boost tourism and economic ties.
“There’s another thing that we, both of us, took for an action item: (it) is to have a direct flight… your external sea between Israel and the Philippines,” Cohen told Marcos in reference to prior meetings with Filipino officials.
“And I think that we agree that both ministries will work together to have the direct flight and this is also to bring more business people to come to invest and reach the place between us. So this is also another important action item that we will do,” he added.
Cohen paid a courtesy visit to Marcos on Monday, as the Israeli official visited the Philippines for a series of engagements. Prior to that, Cohen met with his counterpart, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, to discuss and sign a memorandum of understanding to boost both countries’ efforts in addressing environmental challenges.
Cohen’s visit to the country also coincides with the 65th anniversary of the two countries’ friendly relations. Just last May 15, the House of Representatives approved on the third and final reading a bill that would set August 9 as the Philippine-Israel Friendship Day.
According to House Bill No. 7763, August 9 was selected for the Philippine-Israel Friendship Day to commemorate the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two nations, which started when former president Manuel Quezon allowed Jews, who were escaping Nazi Germany’s Holocaust during the Second World War, to seek refuge in the Philippines.