Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday said officials are almost finished with the framework on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Russia that was shelved during the administration of former President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
“The draft is almost finished and it will be one of the documents that will be signed if we can finish the nitty-gritty during the visit of President (Rodrigo) in Russia sometime in April or May,” Lorenzana said.
Included in the MOU are exchange of military personnel visits, participation and observation of Russian exercises.
The Defense chief said Russia wants to have joint exercises with Filipino troops but details have yet to be worked out and the MOU has yet to be examined the Department of Foreign Affairs.
“I’m sure it will be signed sometime in April or May then after that we can have exchanges of personnel. They can send students to our schools. We can send personnel to their school. But first and foremost, we will observe their exercises. If we need their expertise then we will join the exercises,” Lorenzana explained.
Earlier, Russian ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev disclosed that the Philippines and Russia are “making necessary efforts” on the possibility of forging a military defense cooperation based on a solid legal basis and a mutual trust.
“We need new partners in Asia Pacific region, including the Philippines. It’s time for the Philippines to discover Russia and time for Russians to discover the Philippines,” he said.
Lorenzana said holding joint military exercises with Russia will not affect the Philippines’ relations with its long-time ally, the United States.
“No, wala naman tayong alliance dito. Military to military cooperation, hindi naman yung katulad sa US na treaty, mutual defense treaty na pagka aatakihin tayo tulungan tayo, wala tayong ganun sa Russia (We do not have an alliance here. This is military to military. This is not the same as the US treaty [Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty] which says that if we are attacked, we will be assisted),” the defense chief explained.