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A message of hope in the President’s visit



AFTER Israel, President Duterte moves on to Jordan today in the course of his seven-day sojourn in that part of the Middle East.

Christian Filipinos are thoroughly familiar with the Jordan River in the Bible, in which Jesus Christ was baptized by John the Baptist as recorded in the New Testament. The Sea of Galilee in the northern part of the river is where Jesus and his fishermen disciples sailed before landing on the shores of Galilee in northern Israel where the people waited to hear Him preach.

From Israel, which President Duterte visited Sept. 2-5, he just has to cross the Jordan river this afternoon to begin his state visit to the Hashemite King­dom of Jordan on Sept. 5-8. Jordan is one of only two Arab nations – the other is Egypt – which recognize the state of Israel.

Jordan, headed by King Abdullah II, has been described as an “oasis of stability” in that turbulent region. It has accepted refugees from neighbor­ing countries which have suffered from various conflicts over the years. By 2015, some 2.1 million Palestinians had found refuge in Jordan along with 1.4 million Syrians and thousands of Iraqi Christians fleeing persecution by the Islamic State.

There are today some 48,000 Filipinos living and working in Jordan and they are one of the reasons President Duterte wants to visit that country. When he left for Israel last Sunday, the President cited these Filipino workers in Jordan along with the 28,000 Filipino caregivers in Israel as one of the important reasons for his visit.

“There is a volatile situation there,” he said. “We have to be sure that our citizens are fully protected.” He is also out to explore trade and investment opportunities and has thus brought along with him a Filipino business delega­tion.

This is the first time that a Philippine president has visited Israel and Jor­dan, two neighboring countries which have had little to do with each other as a result of the historic enmity between Israel and its Arab neighbors and the continuing violence in the entire region stirred by Islamic State extremists.

In visiting Israel and Jordan in one trip, President Duterte may be sending a message of hope for peace and economic cooperation in that troubled part of the world.