Israel’s Ambassador Harpaz says PHL will forever be in his heart; expresses gratitude, love for Filipinos
(Eagle News) — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte conferred the Order of Sikatuna with the rank of Datu (Grand Cross) Silver Distinction on outgoing Ambassador of Israel to the Philippines Rafael Harpaz who paid a farewell call on the President at the Malacañang Palace on June 16, 2021.
Ambassador Harpaz was assigned to the country in August 2018, after serving as the Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ (MFA) Central Asia and Caucasus Department.
“I love this country. I love the Filipinos. Those last three years were very unique and special in our relations,” he said in an interview with Eagle News Service’ “ASEAN in Focus” program on June 16.
Ambassador Harpaz recalled that he was just one week into his duty as envoy in Manila when President Duterte had his historic visit to Israel where he had served as the President’s escort in September 2018.
“Since then, our relations are warming,” he said.
-Improving PH-Israel relations-
“During the pandemic, we opened here in Manila, when most embassies were sizing down. We opened for the first time our defense attache office in the Philippines,” he said during the exclusive interview.
“Our commercial mission was opened in the Philippines. We opened and inaugurated our consulate in Davao which is covering all of Mindanao,” he said.
Ambassador Harpaz said that he is “leaving with a lot of satisfaction with our relations, with a lot of love to the Filipino people.”
“I’m sure I’ll be back here as a tourist for sure,” he added during the interview.
-Israel’s envoy thanks Filipinos-
Ambassador Harpaz also said that he is grateful to the Filipinos working in Israel for caring for the elderly, the senior citizens in Israel, especially at the height of the pandemic.
He said that the Filipinos are known for their good service, and are known as “good people” in Israel.
“While we couldn’t meet with our parents, and grandparents during the COVID (pandemic) to keep them protected from the pandemic, the Filipinos were there for them,” he said.
Ambassador Harpaz said that the Filipinos did an “amazing” job in caring for Israel’s elderly.
“Thank you very much. Thank you very much for what you did for us every day, (in) all the years, (including) at the moment that we needed it most,” he told the NET25 Eagle News Service program, “ASEAN in Focus.”
The Oder of Sikatuna, the national order of diplomatic merit of the Republic of the Philippines, is conferred upon individuals who have rendered exceptional and meritorious services to the country, and also upon diplomats, officials and nationals of foreign states who have rendered conspicuous services in fostering, developing and strengthening relations between their country and the Philippines.
(Eagle News Service)