Statement of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte prior to his departure for Russia
Davao International Airport, Buhangin, Davao City
22 May 2017
Kindly sit down. Thank you.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea; Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alan Peter Cayetano; and other members of the Cabinet present; Mr. Vadim Velikanov, Charge d’Affaires Russian Embassy; Engineer Agnes Udang, Area Manager, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines; fellow workers in government; my beloved countrymen.

Maayong hapon sa inyong tanan.

I speak to you now before I leave for my official visit to the Russian Federation. This is a landmark visit, and I thank His Excellency Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, for the invitation.

This visit is most anticipated, having been the product of my previous meeting with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Laos and with President Vladimir Putin in Peru and most recently in Beijing.

My visit underscores the independence of the Philippines’ foreign policy and the firm resolve to broaden the horizons of friendship and cooperation with other nations.

Russia is a country that we must work with. There are opportunities for cooperation that cannot be ignored. With [its] geographic footprint in the Asia-Pacific region and its strategic interests in the region, a positive engagement is required to find areas of synergies in interests.

Accompanying me to Russia are the heads of Philippine legislature and key members of my cabinet. It is a high-level delegation, befitting the level of importance my government places on writing of a new chapter of Philippines–[Russia] relationship.

In my discussions with President Putin in APEC last year, we agreed to give a much needed boost in our bilateral relations.

The doors [for] cooperation opened 40 years ago. But it has opened ever so slightly.

There is much room to develop mutually beneficial cooperation. There are many opportunities that needed to be explored. Now we can work together to open those doors even wider.

Russia must cease to be at the margins of Philippine diplomacy. Overdependence on traditional partners has limited our room to maneuver in a very dynamic international arena.

This is a strategic oversight that has led to many missed opportunities for our country. I am determined to correct this.

My administration will give [Philippines-Russia] relations the importance commensurate to its full potential. We will push for pragmatic engagement in the politico-security sphere, increased economic cooperation, and enhanced cultural and people-to-people exchanges.

This is a concrete expression of this deliberate policy decision.

In Moscow, I will meet [with] President Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. We will discuss ways of charting the future direction of our partnership across many areas.

[We will] exchange views [on] regional and international issues to determine how we can best advance our shared interests.

Certainly, I will take the opportunity to engage the business leaders in Russia. With the Philippines’ emphasis on sustaining our economic growth, we seek responsible economic partners who will become our new allies in development.

I will let them know that the Philippines means serious business.

I will also meet our Filipino community in Moscow. I will thank them for their [contributions] to nation building. I will also tell them that your Government continues to work very hard to give you the country and future you all deserve.

My visit gives the rare opportunity for the Russian people, through various events and activities, to know more about the Philippines and our people.

I will engage the Russian youth who should know that Filipinos consider Russia as friends and that we seek nothing more than a friendship of equals based on mutual respect.

It is my hope that this official visit will lay the firm foundation [for] a robust, comprehensive, and mutually-beneficial [Philippines–Russia] partnership. Founded on shared [aspirations], sovereign equality and pragmatism, there is room for growth. There is room for positive change.

Thank you and good afternoon. [applause]

May I just a few… By the way, what’s your time? [Secretary Andanar: Five minutes to 4:00, Mr. President] Five minutes to 4:00–

You know I’m wearing a truly Filipino product. It’s called Ibarra. The literature mentions one of… Ignacia Street in Quezon City.

It’s called Ibarra. It’s assembled in the Philippines but pina-demonstrate lang nila. It’s an elegant one. Very nice and I’m going to wear it proudly as a Philippine product. [applause]

Ibarra… Of course, all the parts are made from– Ganon man sa, ganon man sa Switzerland. You can go to any factory then make them build your watch and itatak mo lang ‘yung brand mo.

So what’s… that’s what he did actually. He sent me, he said na, I will not give it to you because that is graft and corruption. Just use it and if it is worth your while and durable, pay for it. So… pero sinuot ko ngayon and wala akong ibang dinala.

It’s five to 4:00?

Subukan daw niya. It’s very elegant. Of course it’s not solid gold. Nothing of the sort. It’s gold plated but very elegant.

‘Yan ang– So everybody in government should be wearing Filipino made, including these shoes. [applause]

I’m wearing mine, Marikina. Yes, if we do not promote our products, who will? ‘Di tayo na mismo.

I’d like to see the generals wearing the boots of Marikina. They’re good ones ha. Totoo. And, someday we will order all our requirements sa sapatos dito sa Marikina.

All we have to do is to fund them, buy them the machines and they can make good shoes.

For wives, Filipina is the best. Really sir. [laughter and applause]

Thank you. Let’s go and fly.

— END —