President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte is infamous for his controversial policies combating the drug trade in his country, as well as for his rhetorical outbursts, such as calling former US president Barack Obama a “son of a whore,” and saying that he once shot a fellow college student and threw a criminal suspect out of a helicopter.
A lesser-known fact about the notorious leader is that his ex-wife of 25 years with whom he had three children is of Jewish descent.
The father of Elizabeth Zimmerman, 70, was a German Jew who fled Nazi Germany and obtained a visa to the Philippines along with approximately 1,300 European Jews.
Netanyahu Meets President of the Philippines Duterte, September 2, 2018 (GPO)
The couple has three children, Paolo, Sara, and Sebastian who are therefore also of Jewish descent, and Sara is currently in Israel visiting with her father.
Despite their Jewish ancestry, Paolo and Sara’s connection to the Jewish people is not necessarily one to be proud of.
Paolo Duterte served as vice mayor of Davao City from 2013 to 2018, but was forced to resign after a Philippines House of Representatives investigation mentioned him in connection to a drugs shipment of methamphetamine that was seized by the National Bureau of Investigation and Bureau of Customs. Paolo Duterte denies the allegations.
His resignation was also tied to the fact that his daughter, 17, implied on Twitter that he had beaten her.
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Paolo Duterte’s implication in possible drug smuggling is ironic given the president’s ferocious war on the drug trade, which human rights groups have estimated have led to the deaths of more than 12,000 Filipinos, including of drug addicts and children, many in extrajudicial killings.
The president has himself condoned such killings. He said in 2009 when he served as mayor of Davao that, “If you are doing an illegal activity in my city, if you are a criminal or part of a syndicate that preys on the innocent people of the city, for as long as I am the mayor, you are a legitimate target of assassination,” Reuters reported.
The World Health Organization and other groups have actually found that the Philippines has a relatively low level of drug abuse, with some 1.57% of the population suffering from drug or alcohol abuse, compared to 1.33% in Israel, 5.47% in the US, and above 2% in many European countries.
Sara Duterte, the current mayor of Davao, is likewise a controversial figure who has clearly inherited her father’s penchant for outrageous actions and statements.
In 2011, she punched and assaulted a court sheriff, as he went about implementing a court order to serve notice for the demolition of dozens of shanty dwellings in the city.
She has also threatened prominent opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes, who has been a high-profile critic of the Duterte family, and involved in investigations into Paolo Duterte.
“There will come a day that someone will shoot him because he’s arrogant,” President Duterte said earlier this year, and received backing from his daughter.
“President Duterte imagines you will be shot,” Sara Duterte said. “On the other hand, I will make sure you are alive and in pain. I have been described as heartless by my mother. Please do not anger me so that you may remain relevant for the future generation.”