The Philippines and Israel are expected to strengthen their bilateral relations, particularly in the areas of information and communications technology (ICT) and innovation, officials of both nations said on Wednesday.
Israeli Ambassador to the Philippines Ilan Fluss said the relationship of the Philippines and Israel has evolved from its long history of bilateral political support to one that focuses on “technology and innovation.”
“My priority and mean effort as ambassador is promoting the establishment of bridges of innovation and technology between our two countries,” he said during Israel Connect, an investment forum led by Israel’s Economic and Commercial Mission to the Philippines.
Israel is fast becoming a global hub of innovation and start-ups, thanks to its recent technological breakthroughs in areas such as agriculture and water, medical devices, smart mobility, cybersecurity and ICT.
The Middle Eastern country is home to Viber and Waze, apps that are popular in the Philippines.
Fluss said Israel is fostering government-to-government and business-to-business relations through investments, citing for instance, the support of Israeli companies in developing the ICT infrastructure backbone of the Philippines as well as their relationships with local telcos.
“I call on our companies and local partners—we should bring not only the very best of technologies but also aspects of knowledge transfer and job creation. This will make long-term partnerships beneficial for all parties,” he said.
For his part, Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Undersecretary David Almirol agreed, saying that the Philippines can learn and take on Israeli partners for development of e-government in the country.
He admitted to Israeli businessmen that his task to promote e-government is fraught with challenges, including outdated infrastructure and systems, lack of training and transparency, red tape, scattered databases, and analog processes.
Almirol said the government intends to “bid out” specific contracts for e-government services to the private sector.
“What we’re doing right now is we’re mapping up the inventory of what we have and also we’re identifying the strengths of the private sector,” he said.
Almirol added that the government is open to implementing e-government projects in any mode, including public-private partnership (PPP) and unsolicited proposals.
“We need the strength of the private sector. We need to privatize the approach and speed of implementation, we need to privatize the solidification of the platforms to unify our strengths—private and government,” he said.
Several Israeli tech companies joined the Economic and Commercial Mission to the Philippines, ranging from organizations that offer Internet of Things solutions, streaming, over-the-top platforms, roaming, mobile marketing, cloud analytics and protection, and cyber security.
Appnext, Roamability, Sequans, Radcom, FirstPoint, Talamoos, Drivenets, Radware, and Axonius are some members of the Israeli investment delegation.
“This is the largest business delegation from Israel to the Philippines since the pandemic started, which at least for me, marks the new normal, and the return of face-to-face interactions. These interactions are very much needed in order to create further collaborations between Israel and the Philippines,” Fluss said.
Tomer Heyvi, who heads the Israeli Economic Mission, noted that these companies are bullish on opportunities in the Philippines.
“They see the Philippines as an opportunity—as a market where they want to grow in. Information technology and mobile are one of the sectors that we see much interest in,” he said.