Israel and the Philippines keep close economic and military ties. Relations between the two countries solidified after Philippines’ president Duterte visited Israel in 2018 and signed over 20 agreements with Israel, worth nearly $83m. Israeli arms exports include drones, anti-tank missiles, radars, surveillance systems for the Philippine army and assault rifles for the police. Also close ties around cyber security were established between both countries. Between 2016-2019 Israel provided training to hundreds of Philippine army and police forces in Israel. Between 8,500 and 30,000 people have been killed in Duterte’s “war on drugs” since 2016. Different evidence shows the use of Israeli rifles by Philippine forces involved in arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings, and in other violations of human rights.
Full diplomatic relations between Israel and the Philippines were realized upon the signing of the Treaty of Friendship on February 26, 1958. The Israeli embassy in Manila and the Philippine embassy in Tel Aviv both opened in 1962.Philippine Embassy of Israel- History
Excluding recently pronounced agreements, the Israel Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines lists 14 major bilateral agreements between the two countries. Both countries also engage in trade exports and imports, with products of electronics, industrial materials and machineries topping the list.‘Lasting friendship’: Philippines-Israel relations In 2022 Israel and the Philippines signed a MoU to establish a joint committee on trade and investments.Israel’s Economic & Commercial Mission to the Philippines
Israel also benefits from Philippine overseas workers, primarily within the area of caregiving. The number of Filipino care workers working in Israel in the 1980s reached a high of 100,000, or about 7% of the Israeli work force. In 2019 around 24,500 Philippines lived and worked in Israel.Data of Foreigners in Israel- Population and Immigration Authority, Policy Planning Division
Relations between the two countries were further solidified as President Rodrigo Duterte made an official state visit to Israel in 2018. Over 20 agreements worth nearly $83 million dollars were signed between the Philippines and Israel during Duterte’s visit. The deals also included one between the Israel and Philippines national chambers of commerce. The agreements stressed the sharing of technology and the engaging in joint production ventures in the Philippines. Additionally, Duterte signed an oil exploration license that is being granted to the Israeli-owned company Ratio Petroleum.Report: Philippines, Israel Signed $83m in Deals This Week
Defense products delivered by Israel to Philippines between 2001-2018 included Blue Horizon UAVs EL/M-2032 ac combat radar and EL/M-2288 AD-STAR air search radar systems, M-68/M-71 155mm towed guns, Spike-ER anti-tank missiles, Spike-NLOS SSM/ASM, EL/M-2022 Multiple-Platform aircraft radar. Some of this equipment has been purchased to enhance Philippines’ surveillance capabilities in the West Philippine Sea (or South China Sea) and for protecting its maritime boundaries.
Under Philippine President Rodgrio Duterte, in 2017 alone, the Philippines procured radar and anti-tank equipment worth $21 million from Israel.
IsraelDefense reported that Israel Weapon Industries and Emtam Karmiel supplied the Philippine National Police (PNP) with 8,170 units of 5.56x45mm assault rifles in 2016-2017, 698 units in 2017 and 4,933 in 2018.Israeli Companies to Supply Weapons to the Philippines Duterte has acknowledged Israel’s importance as an arms supplier, and reportedly even ordered his military to purchase defense items, including intelligence gathering equipment, only from Israel.Duterte says he’ll buy only Israeli weapons… because there are no restrictions In September 2019, Philippines received two Hermes-450 UAVs from Israel, with further deliveries expected in 2020.Philippines receives unmanned aerial vehicles from Israel
Systems upgrades and joint-ventures have become important features these relationships. For example, in July 2015, six M113 armored personnel carriers, upgraded by Israel, were delivered to the Philippine Army.6 Upgraded APCs Delivered for the Philippine Army mechanised Infantry Division
The Philippine Air Force acquired in 2020 three Spyder Ground-to-Air missiles Systems in a $141m deal with Rafael. The Spyder systems will be delivered in 2021.Report: Rafael will begin supplying Spyder systems to the Philippines as early as 2021
In September 2021 Israel and Philippine drafted a MoU on defense cooperation, that is planned to serve as the primary framework of Israel and the Philippines on military ties.as to January 2023 the MoU was not signed yet
In 2021 the Philippine Navy acquired nine Shaldag patrol crafts from Israeli Shipyards for an estimated amount of $175 million. Five will be produced in Israel and four of them in the Philippines.Philippines to Acquire Israeli Missile-Capable Patrol Boats for $209M Israeli Shaldag ship deal with Philippines estimated at $175 million
In September 2022 the Embassy of Israel in the Philippines, together with Ministry of Defense, and SIBAT hosted a Anti-Drone Seminar to present Israeli technologies and developments to their Philippine counterparts. Also private and state-owned arms companies presented during the seminar: Elbit, Rafael, IAI, Rayzone, MC Tech, Smartshooter, Elbit Elisra. Also participated from the Philippine side: the Department of National Defense, Philippines Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police.Israel to support Phl with Top-Edge Defense Technology
In November 2022 the Philippine Navy announced plans to purchase another 15 Israeli-made Shaldag patrol crafts.Philippines Commissions New Gunboats, Plans on Acquiring 15 More
Between 2016-2017, 20 police officers undertook training programs that included the Postgraduate Education Program on Policing, Comprehensive Drug Control Strategy by the Israeli model.PNP Director General Dela Rosa’s One Year Report for 2016-2017
In 2019 representatives of the Philippine National Police (PNP) attended a counter-terrorism seminar in Israel, where both sides agreed on a counter-terrorism training that will be conducted for the PNP by Israeli Police in the future.PNP to undergo counter-terrorism training under Israel police
In 2019 Israel has provided training to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). The bilateral training included 180 Philippine Army troops, who so reported, were qualified to pass on those lessons to other soldiers. The Counter-Terrorism Trainer’s Training (CTTT), staged between June 26-July 4, focused on how to fight an insurgency in urban and rural areas, including through the use of combat technology such as drones.Israel lends Philippines a helping strategic hand
In 2016, the Israeli cyber security firm Cyberint opened a Philippine office in Manila and started a partnership with the Philippine company IPV Network.IPV Network brings world leader in cybersecurity CyberInt to the Philippines
In 2017, the Israel Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ICCP) organized the opening of the Cyber Defense Forum in Makati City.Forging Tighter Cybersecurity in the Philippines: What the Country Can Learn from Israel
In 2018, a variety of Israeli Cyber-Security Firms started business in Philippines.Israeli Cybersecurity Firms Are Breaking Into The Philippines
In 2020, Calcalist reported that the Israeli cyber company Rayzone acted and negotiated with in the Philippines. Through another Israeli company called Senpai, they provided services to the Philippine National Intelligence Coordinating Agency and the National Police.The Rayzone Group’s secret cyber intelligence activities revealed
Human Rights Defender, Itay Mack, exposed in 2022 that the Philippine Office of Cybercrime, that collaborates with the Philippine police (PNP) and secret agency (NBI) purchased UFED devices by Cellebrite.Israeli Phone-hacking Tech Is Helping Duterte’s War on Drugs, Media
In 2022 an Israeli cyber school was launched in Manila, called “CybersCool Defcon”, is based on a platform based in Tel-Aviv, Israel called “ThriveDX Saas”, founded by Roy Zur, who in the past lead training of Israeli cyber and intelligence units.Cyber security school launched in PH Roy Zur ThriveDX school in Philippines
Arms Fairs and Visits
In 2017 a Philippine delegation, that included representatives from different security and military forces, visited Israel for the purchase of arms from Israeli security companies.Defense Chronicle- Department of National Defense | Republic of the Philippines
In 2018 an Israeli delegation including the director of the Counter Terrorism and Homeland Security of the Israeli National Security Council, representatives of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Prime Minister’s Office visited the Philippines for a forum on Counterterrorism for Philippine forces.NDCP conducts forum on Israeli Experience in Countering Terrorism
In 2018 the Philippines and Israel started talks in the attempt to forge a bilateral agreement to combat illegal drugs as a transnational crime. The agreement will include cooperation through exchange of information and adopting programs on prevention of trafficking and use of illegal drugs.PHILIPPINES, ISRAEL EYE ANTI-DRUGS PACT
In 2018 Israeli companies participated in ADAS – Asian Defence Security and Crisis Management Exhibition. Among the Israeli companies: E-Lander, Elbit, Emtan, Fab Manufacturing @ Import of Industrial Equipment, IAI, Rafael, TSG IT advanced systems.
In 2019 and 2022 Philippine delegations participated in the Israeli arms Fair ISDEF in Tel Aviv, Israel.ISDEF EXPO DELEGATIONS & VIP’S
Usage of Israeli Arms
Israeli shooting weapons in use by Philippine Police and Army Forces – Different evidence shows the use of Israeli Tavor rifles,Espineli Trading- FacebookEspineli Trading- Facebook Negev rifles,Philippine National Police- Facebook Ace rifles,Espineli Trading- Facebook Masada pistols,PNP to distribute new service firearms and vehicles to ground unitsEspineli Trading- Facebook Gilboa rifles,Davao’s SWAT members get new firearms by different Philippine police forces (among others counter-terrorism units and narcotic enforcement units).Itay Mack : Military Export to Philippines- appeal to stop export Among local police units also SWAT teams, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) purchased guns and rifles from Israel.Itay Mack : Military Export to Philippines- appeal to stop export
120mm mortar on M113 (Elbit, Soltam) – in use by Artillery Forces of the AFP.
Soltam M-71 Towed Howitzer – In use by Artillery Forces of the AFP.
Hermes 450 UAV– in use by Philippine Air Force.
Hermes 900 UAV -in use by Philippine Air Force.
Sabrah ASCOD II Light Tank – used by the 1st Tank Battalion of the Philippine Army’s Armor Division (AD).Philippine Army receives Sabrah light tank
Human Rights Violations
The Philippine National Police (PNP) is charged with maintaining internal security in most of the country and reports to the Department of the Interior. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), which reports to the Department of National Defense, is responsible for external security but also carries out domestic security functions in regions with a high incidence of conflict, particularly the Mindanao region. The two agencies share responsibility for counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations. The PNP Special Action Force is responsible for urban counterterrorism operations.
President Duterte’s May 2017 declaration of martial law for the entire region of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago was extended until the end of the year, giving the military expanded powers in the area. Governors, mayors, and other local officials have considerable influence over local police units, including appointment of top departmental and municipal police officers and the provision of resources. The government continued to support and arm civilian militias. The AFP controlled Civilian Armed Force Geographical Units (CAFGUs), while Civilian Volunteer Organizations (CVOs)fell under PNP command. These paramilitary units often received minimal training and were poorly monitored and regulated. Some political families and clan leaders, particularly in Mindanao, maintained private armies and, at times, recruited CVO and CAFGU members into those armies.Philippines 2019 Human Rights Report- State.gov
Significant human rights issues included: unlawful or arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings, by and on behalf of the government and nonstate actors; reports of forced disappearance by and on behalf of the government and nonstate actors; torture by and on behalf of the government and nonstate actors; arbitrary detention by and on behalf of the government and nonstate actors; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary and unlawful interference with privacy; significant problems with the independence of the judiciary; the worst forms of restrictions on free expression and the press, including violence, threats of violence, and unjustified arrests or prosecutions of journalists, censorship, and the existence of criminal libel laws; corruption; and unlawful recruitment or use of child soldiers by terrorists and groups in rebellion against the government.Philippines 2019 Human Rights Report- State.gov
Since Duterte took office in 2016, at least 8,663 people have been killed in his “war on drugs,” according to a report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Philippines rights monitors and Human Rights Watch believe the actual number could be three times as high and may approach 30,000 between 2016-2019. Only a handful of prosecutions have made progress, and only one case implicating police has resulted in a conviction, OHCHR said.UN: Human Rights Council Should Act on Philippines
The UN Human Rights Office has also documented that, between 2015 and 2019, at least 248 human rights defenders, legal professionals, journalists and trade unionists have been killed in relation to their work.Annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General: Situation of human rights in the Philippines The president increasingly threatened journalists who are critical of the government. Editor-in-Chief Maria Ressa and her news website Rappler, which reported extensively on killings and other human rights violations in the “war on drugs,” and a former Rappler reporter and board members, faced at least 10 politically motivated lawsuits. Websites of alternative media organizations were subjected to distributed denial of service (DDos) attacks that generated fake visits to these sites and rendered them inaccessible. At least two journalists received threats after being “red-tagged.” Media organizations said at least 15 journalists had been killed in work-related attacks under the Duterte administration since 2016.Everything you need to know about human rights in the Philippines: 2021