Roque: PH anti-terrorism efforts to benefit from military, police officials' Israel trip

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 28) — The Israel 'gift' trip for military and police delegation will prove to be beneficial for the country's security measure, a top government official said.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Tuesday said the officials will have an agenda of their own in Israel--particularly in boosting the country's fight against extremism and terrorism.

"Including them of course (is) a part of a gesture of appreciation, it's part of the reason why they will join the trip," Roque told reporters in a media briefing.

"But obviously, for security personnel, a trip to Israel would entail collaborating and mingling with security forces of Israel, in order for our men and women in uniform to benefit from the experience including their drive against extremism and terrorism," he added.

This came in response to Senator Ping Lacson's criticism of the said travel gift. In a statement, Lacson said that official presidential trips "must have a better purpose than just being a gift to anyone in the government."

President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday said he is adding military and police officers to his trip "as a gift for serving the country well."

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

Roque noted he found nothing wrong with the sudden inclusion of the security officials.

"(There's) Nothing wrong (with it). I think that strengthening security cooperation is one of the matters that will be discussed," Roque said. 

"They have their own agenda when they get there. Meron po silang sariling schedule at agenda na susundin aside from the President (They have their own schedule and agenda to follow aside from the President). That's how it operates," he added.

Roque said since they are still active members of the service, the military and police personnel's trip expenses will be paid for by the government.

Earlier this month, Duterte claimed he was reconsidering the September trips to Israel and Jordan due to the travel expenses. But the President said he will push through with the state visits.  

Duterte is set to visit Israel from September 2 to 5.