The Philippines and Russia to seal bilateral agreements during President Duterte’s visit

Chief of Presidential Protocol and Presidential Assistant on Foreign Affairs Robert Borje provides details on President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s visit to Russia during a press briefing at the New Executive Building in Malacañang on September 27, 2019. YANCY LIM/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Manila — The Philippines and Russia are expected to seal several bilateral agreements when President Rodrigo Roa Duterte embarks on a five-day visit to that country next week, a foreign affairs official said on Friday.

In a pre-departure briefing, Assistant Secretary for European Affairs Amelita Aquino said President Duterte and President Vladimir Putin will witness the exchange of several bilateral agreements that cover cooperation on culture, health, and basic research.

“The highlight of the trip will be the President’s bilateral meeting with President Putin where they will discuss the state of our bilateral relations and how both sides can further enhance and expand our cooperation in various areas,” Aquino told reporters.

“They will also exchange views on regional and global developments and other issues.”

The President’s trip to Russia, from October 1 to 5, will be his second visit to that country after his May 2017 trip, which was cut short by the conflict in Marawi City.

This will be the fourth meeting of the two Presidents. They first met in November 2016 on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Peru. After President Duterte’s visit to Russia in May 2017, they met again in November 2017 on the sidelines of the APEC Summit in Da Nang, Vietnam.

President Duterte will visit the cities of Sochi and Moscow.

In Sochi, the President, along with President Putin and other invited leaders, will speak during the Plenary Session of the Valdai Forum on October 3, Aquino said. “The World Order Seen From the East” is this year’s theme.

The forum is organized by the Valdai Discussion Club, one of Russia’s prominent and respected think tanks and discussion groups. Top Russian and international officials, as well as policymakers, academics, and journalists gather at the annual Valdai Forum.

Part of the President’s itinerary in Moscow will be his attendance to the Philippines-Russia Business Forum aimed at promoting the trade and investment opportunities between the Philippines and Russia. The forum serves as a venue for networking between Russian and Filipino businessmen.

Another activity of the President in Moscow is a brief lecture at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, one of Russia’s most prestigious and leading institutions on diplomacy and international affairs.

The President caps his visit to Russia with a meeting with the Filipino community there.

President Duterte’s trip also has a cultural component. The Bayanihan Dance Company and the Philippine Madrigal Singers will showcase their talents before Russian audiences.

There are less than 7,000 Filipinos in Russia, mostly women, engaged in the country’s service sector, according to Aquino.

Aquino said that although the President’s first visit was short, it provided momentum for stronger ties and more engagements between the Philippines and Russia.

Russia provided military hardware to the Philippine military while it was battling the ISIS-linked Maute Group in Mindanao, aiding Filipino security forces with crucial support to defeat the extremists, the President said then.

While the members of the President’s official delegation are still being finalized, Aquino said the secretaries of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Finance, Department of Trade and Industry, and the Department of National Defense will travel with the President during the visit.

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