Duterte gives Israel trip 'gift' to retiring military, police officials

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President Rodrigo Duterte. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 27) — President Rodrigo Duterte is adding members to his Israel delegation: retiring military and police officers.

"Now I would be going there with some of the retiring military and police officers. Marami kami [There are many]. That is my gift to them for serving the country well," Duterte said after his speech Sunday.

On August 15, the President claimed he was reconsidering the September trips to Israel and Jordan due to the expense. But Duterte said he plans to visit the Filipino communities in the two states.

"I'm there because of the 28,000 Filipinos. And it's getting hotter there. And also in the Lebanese front, there is something a-brewing there. And in Jordan, we have 48,000 Filipinos. That's why I am bringing (Environment Secretary Roy) Cimatu to prepare for that eventuality and just in case," he added.

But Duterte just shrugged off reports that he will be going to the Middle Eastern country for medical purposes.

"Eh kung operahan nila ang utak ko doon eh di mas maganda. Wala mang problema," he said.

[Translation: If they operate on my brain, then better. That would be no problem.]

Rumours alleging the decline of Duterte's health arose when communist leader Joma Sison posted online an unverified report that the President had gone into coma. Malacañang has continuously denied the reports.

The President will visit Israel from September 2 to 5, two years after his remarks comparing his anti-drug campaign to the Holocaust. From Israel, he will then fly to Jordan.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier told reporters Duterte was slated to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.