Duterte to visit Jordan

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte will visit Jordan as part of his bid to "promote" Philippine ties with countries in the Middle East, Malacañang said on Tuesday, August 14.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said in a news briefing on Tuesday that the trip to the Arab state will take place after the President's visit to Israel in September.

"After the Israel visit, the President will also fly to Jordan," Roque said.

Roque was sparse with details of the trip which have yet to be finalized, he said. There is no final date of the trip yet.

The objective of the Jordan visit is to "promote ties with all peoples of the Middle East," said Roque.

In May, Jordan committed to donate two helicopters to the Philippines after Duterte agreed to observe "restraint" in his criticism of then UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.

Zeid, a Jordanian prince  and the cousin of Jordan’s King Abdullah, had slammed Duterte for ordering the Philippine police to ignore possible probes over the alleged human rights violations under campaign against illegal drugs.

In return, Duterte insulted Zeid and said he had an "empty" head – an act that a majority of Filipinos thumbed down as rude, based on a Social Weather Stations survey.

While Duterte had held off on tirades against Zeid, he warned on July 31 that he would resume his verbal attack against the former UN rights chief if Jordan would not deliver on its promised choppers.

The Kingdom of Jordan shares a border with Israel and other states like Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, and Palestine. It hosts an estimated 26,000 to 28,000 Filipino workers, based on figures from the Philippine embassy there.

During Duterte's Israel visit from September 2 to 5, he will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.