Russian President Vladimir Putin has assured President Rodrigo Duterte that his country is ready to help the Philippines in fighting terrorism and share its experiences and developments with Filipinos.
Putin gave this assurance to Duterte during their bilateral meeting in Sochi on Thursday afternoon.
In his remarks, he noted how Duterte’s first visit to Russia in May 2017 was cut short because of the siege of Marawi City in southern Mindanao by the Maute Group, which was affiliated with the Islamic State (IS).
“I remember that during your last visit to Russia in May of 2017, you had to cut it short and return to the Philippines due to terrorist attacks committed by ISIS terrorists. And over the last two years you have managed to lower the level of terrorist threat in your country and to strengthen the potential of your security bodies,” Putin said.
IS is also referred to as ISIS or the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
“We are prepared to develop our partnership when it comes to countering terrorism and share our experience and all the developments,” he added.
Responding to Putin, Duterte noted that Russia and the Philippines had established a high-level consultative mechanism between the Foreign Ministries, National Security Councils and Economy agencies.
“It is imperative to sustain these consultative dialogues and enhance our mechanism to further strengthen the foundation of our growing relationships,” he said.
“I am therefore happy with this opportunity to continue our dialogue with the view of identifying vital areas of cooperation, where we should concentrate our efforts in the coming years,” Duterte added.
Since 2017, the President said the National Security Councils of both countries had been meeting regularly to take stock of their engagement in defense, security and law enforcement and to exchange views on other issues affecting both countries.
“Since the signing our agreement on defense cooperation in 2017, we have the exchanges of high-level visits between our defense and security officials, as well as the port calls of our two navies. I am pleased that for the first time also a Philippine Navy vessel sailed to Russia to participate in the naval parade in Vladivostok on the Russian Navy Day,” he added.
“We have opened our respective defense attachés in the offices in our capitals. This is an indication of our long-term commitment to elevate our defense relation and I am indeed very pleased with this development,” the President said.
Also during their bilateral meeting, Putin and Duterte lauded the “dramatic” turn of events in the ties between the Philippines and Russia.
Duterte said he visited Russia this time to reaffirm the Philippines’ strong commitment and to build a “robust and comprehensive partnership” with the Russian Federation.
“In the past two years, we have seen a dramatic increase in bilateral activities across many areas of cooperation at various levels of government,” the President added.
“We have also made historic firsts in the key strategic areas from economic, defense, security and military technical cooperation,” he said.
Putin highlighted Duterte’s contribution in expanding the “multifaceted cooperation” between Moscow and Manila.
“Due to your personal attention, we have revitalized our political dialogue. We have reached lots of success in our trade and economic cooperation,” he said.
Putin noted that in 2018, trade between the Philippines and Russia doubled.
“Last year, our trading has grown two-fold. So, it was more than $1.2 billion. And Russian export also grew four-fold. We have major reserves in place and Russian companies are ready to increase the supplies of energy carriers, aircraft, transport, special equipment,” he said.
“We want also to increase our industrial cooperation and to improve our cooperation when it comes to peace, the exploration of space and the use of digital technologies,” Putin added.
Meanwhile, in the Valdai Discussion Club, Duterte cited the need to explore new partnerships with non-traditional allies such as Russia.
“We want friends and partners to respect our independence to make sovereign decisions just as we respect theirs,” the President said.
“The principles of respect for state sovereignty, non-intervention and peaceful resolution of disputes must be upheld at all times, otherwise the order unravels,” he added.
With three years left before his term ends, Duterte said he would seek engagement in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.
“As one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, the Philippines will assume our twin responsibility of sustaining the growth of our people, while helping other developing countries in their own [journey] to progress. We will strengthen our economic ties with these regions, opening new markets and with it the free exchange of ideas, technology and innovation,” he said.
“I want the Filipino people to broaden their worldwide view, to be enriched by the cultures and intellectual traditions of the old civilizations of the Americas, Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East,” the President added.
Duterte is in Russia for a five-day official visit to meet with Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Sochi and Moscow, and to sign several agreements on practical cooperation.