THE Philippines will soon receive various types of assistance from Russia, Japan and Australia to boost its fight against terrorism and illegal drugs and ease the suffering of displaced families in Marawi City.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said the giving of assistance was discussed during his meetings with foreign ministers of the three countries at the sidelines of the 50th Asean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and other related meetings hosted by the Philippines.
Cayetano said he and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov agreed to expedite negotiations on several bilateral agreements that would boost the Philippines’ capability in dealing with terrorism, illegal narcotics and criminality.
“Minister Lavrov and I both agreed to fast track negotiations for pending bilateral agreements, particularly on military-technical cooperation, illegal narcotics and law enforcement,” he said.
The Philippines and Russia have signed 10 agreements since President Rodrigo Duterte’s official visit to Moscow in May.
Cayetano said Moscow offered to help improve the capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police in dealing with the threat posed by Islamic State-affiliated terrorist groups operating in Mindanao.
“Russia’s offer to assist is of vital importance to the Philippines, especially given its great expertise, vast experience and modern equipment in dealing with terrorism and other security concerns,” the foreign affairs secretary said.
During the meeting, the two foreign ministers also discussed trade and investment, education and research and other areas of cooperation that the Philippines and Russia could explore.
Japan also offered to provide assistance to help the Philippines fight terrorists in Mindanao. The assistance will be in addition to the P100 million aid that Japan vowed for those displaced by the fighting in Marawi City.
Meanwhile, the Australian government promised to provide $20 million, to be given in four years, to ease civilian suffering caused by the siege in Marawi City and contribute to peace-building in the area.
The donation is in addition to the emergency food and other supplies valued at $920,000 sent in June. The supplies, including tarpaulins, sleeping mats, mosquito nets, and water and sanitation kits, were coursed through the Philippine Red Cross.