Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte met with President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday morning and was greeted by several dozen demonstrators, who held signs and shouted at his convoy in protest of the visit.
In recent weeks, the Tag Meir organization, a grassroots group devoted to combating hate crimes, implored Rivlin to cancel his meeting with the Filipino leader since "he is a racist and anti-Semitic who is suspected of murder and other grave crimes."
"We asked the president to cancel his meeting with Duterte and stop legitimizing his statements and deeds, but he did not respond," the organization said.
The demonstrators shouted "shame" as Duterte's convoy arrived at the President's House, as well as "stop inviting dangerous dictators," and "Duterte—a rapist."
Tag Meir's chairman Dr. Gadi Gvaryahu expressed his disbelief regarding the visit of the controversial leader.
"It is unthinkable that a week before Rosh Hashanah, a Jewish state hosts a man who compares himself to Hitler, a racist and a person who encourages rape. You cannot hold both ends of the stick—to define the state as Jewish and to host leaders whose actions contradict Jewish values at the same time," he stressed.
The protest was organized by Amnesty International and was attended by Adv. Itay Mack, a human-rights lawyer and activist who fights for greater transparency on Israel’s military exports, and MK Mossi Raz (Meretz).
At the meeting, President Rivlin emphasized a stability of the relations between the two countries.
"Our relationship has a long history of 70 years with your recognition of Israel's independence. One can say that this is an 80-year relationship that began when you opened your gates to the Holocaust refugees. Anyone who has found refuge in your country will never forget it," stated the president.
"All of humanity, not only the Jewish people and the entire free world, felt that Hitler represented the devil himself, Satan on earth, and I have no doubt that you felt the same way during your visit to Yad Vashem," he added.
Regarding economic relations between the two countries, Rivlin said that it is clear that Israel and the Philippines "will be able to cooperate."
Duterte thanked Israel for inviting him, and introduced Rivlin to his Jewish daughter.
"My wife could not come, she is ill. I brought military men with me. We would like to strengthen our ties with Israel, we have a lot in common and this explains our relationship. You have helped our country in the war against terrorism, and I hope to discuss future economic and commercial investments with you. There are many opportunities in Israel," he explained.
He remarked that Israel is helping the Philippines in the intelligence field: "My military personnel know that when it comes to the purchase of military gear and weapons, there is only one country—Israel. US is a good friend, but there are limitations on purchases made there."
"There will not be a problem with us from this point of view. We are far from you and are not connected to the troubles in Israel, we maintain ethics and principles of democracy," Duterte added.
"When it comes to terrorism, we have to fight to win against a common enemy," he continued.
Referring to the war he declared on Mindanao's jihadists, the Philippines president said:" We started bombarding targets in Mindanao as part of this war."
Duterte likes to mention the people he killed from time to time. Last year, during his speech to the Filipino community in Vietnam, he confessed to the murder he committed at the age of 16.
Similarly, in December 2016 the contentious leader claimed that he shot criminals when he was mayor of Davao:
"In Davao I used to kill personally. Just to show to the police that if I can do it why can't you. I'd go around in Davao with a motorcycle, with a big bike around, and I would just patrol the streets, looking for trouble. I was really looking for a confrontation so I could kill," he exclaimed.