Philippines is a ‘very important partner,’ Russia’s Putin says

President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte, President of Russia Vladimir Putin in Sochi. Photo: Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

MANILA, Oct 4, 2019, PhilStar. President Rodrigo Duterte and Russian President Vladimir Putin had an “amiable and fruitful” bilateral meeting on Thursday night, with the Russian leader calling the Philippines a “very important partner” in the region. Accordingt to a post on the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson’s Facebook page, the meeting touched on what Duterte called the “remarkable progress” of the two countries’ relations, reported The Philippine Star.

Duterte specifically mentioned last year’s Navy visit which the statement touted as “an unprecedented goodwill visit never been done in previous governments.”

BRP Tarlac (LD-601) arrived in Vladivostok on October 2 for a five-day goodwill visit to mark the country’s first port call to Russia after two of the Russian Navy’s own port calls to Manila last year.

“This [goodwill visit] is crucial to our friendly relations. (I am) glad that you are all here in our land and we are looking forward (to) future military exchanges and other activities,” commander of the Russian Pacific Fleet, Vice Admiral Sergie Avaleyants said of the arriving Philippine delegation.

“I would like to highlight that the Philippines is a very important partner of Russia in Asia,” Putin said of their bilaterial relationship, calling their cooperation “constructive and mutually beneficial.”

BRP Davao del Sur (LD-602) along with its 300-member contingent also sailed to Vladivostok on July 15 to participate in the naval parade celebration during the country’s Navy Day as a follow-up to last year’s visit.

“The Palace considers this meeting as one of the significant highlights of PRRD’s official trip to Russia, and we look forward to the president’s participation in the subsequent events that will be held both here in Sochi and in Moscow,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said on the Facebook post.

‘Us against the world’

Both countries are members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and have notably made strides in economic, security and space-research relations.

“We are prepared [to develop] our partnership when it comes to countering terrorists,” Putin said, recalling how Duterte had to cut short his first trip to the country in 2017 amid the siege of Marawi City.

Further cooperation with Russian space agency Roscosmos is also slated for the future as Manila recently secured into law a consolidated Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA).

Panelo’s statement noted that the progress in Philippines-Russia relations came “after [Duterte] sought the rebalancing of traditional partnerships and the deepening of relations with non-traditional partners at the onset of his Administration.”

“[T]here are three of us against the world – China, Philippines and Russia. It’s the only way,” Duterte was quoted as saying in 2016 in China, marking a complete reversal in foreign policy since he took office.

Similarly, the Philippine Navy sent its largest warship to China’s Shandong province in April to participate in the Chinese Navy’s 70th anniversary festivities.

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