26 May 2017

Cayetano hails Russia’s commitment to improve ties with PH in various fields
MOSCOW, RUSSIA – Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano expressed his gratitude to his counterpart Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov for Russia’s commitment to broaden relations with the Philippines in various spheres.

Cayetano personally extended his appreciation and gratitude to Lavrov for the various agreements signed between the two governments.

“Your Excellency, I want to reiterate the President’s commitment to strengthen the relations between Russia and the Philippines in many areas,” Cayetano told Lavrov at a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here on Thursday, May 25.

The new Foreign Affairs Secretary thanked Moscow for its commitment to strengthen cooperation with Manila particularly in security and intelligence cooperation and in stepping up measures to combat terrorism especially amid violence in southern Philippines.

“Current developments in Mindanao where ISIS involvement is suspected, support our common desire to strengthen security and intelligence cooperation and make this a safer world for all of our people,” Cayetano said.

“So let me again express our gratitude for Russia’s offer to share your expertise, experience and vast knowledge in the field of security and fighting terrorism,” he added.

At least nine agreements in the areas of tourism, agriculture, defense cooperation, trade and industry, foreign affairs, transportation, and culture and the arts were signed between the Philippines and Russia.

This despite the absence of President Rodrigo Duterte, who had to cut short his trip to Moscow due to terror incident in Marawi City that prompted him to declare martial law in Mindanao.

Cayetano again expressed his gratitude to the Russian President Vladimir Putin for understanding the decision of the President and even adjusting his schedule in order to meet with Duterte before returning to the Philippines last Tuesday.

Cayetano said the President is still looking forward to visit Russia again to which Lavrov responded that Moscow will be happy to see Duterte anytime.

For his part, Lavrov said the short visit of Duterte in Moscow has given an “important impetus” to the development of stable relations between the Philippines and Russia.

He said the two governments have been preparing to sign documents on military and law enforcement cooperation.

He likewise reiterated Russia’s solidarity with the leadership of Duterte expressing his sympathies and condolences to those who were hurt in Marawi.###PND

Joint Statement of the President of the Russian Federation and the President of the Republic of the Philippines on the results of the visit to the Russian Federation of the President of the Republic of the Philippines H.E. Rodrigo Roa Duterte
At the invitation of President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, President of the Republic of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte paid an official visit to Russia on May 22 – 24, 2017. Negotiations with Vladimir Putin were held on May 23, 2017.

Russian-Philippine negotiations were held in an atmosphere of friendship and understanding. The Parties expressed satisfaction with the recently increased cooperation in various fields. They reviewed thoroughly the prospects of further enhancement of the Russian-Philippine cooperation in priority areas. The Parties exchanged their views on the pressing issues of regional and international agenda.

1. Vladimir Putin and Rodrigo Duterte assessed the first visit of the Philippine leader as an important event for promoting comprehensive bilateral cooperation as well as making progress in ensuring stability, security and sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region.

2. The Heads of State were unanimous that the bilateral agreements signed between the Russian Federation and the Republic of the Philippines during this visit are meant to become a solid ground for further promotion of cooperation between the two countries based on mutual respect of sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, non-interference in one another’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit. Cooperation between the two countries is meant to contribute to the creation of an equitable, interdependent and multipolar world based on the respect for the objectives and principles of the United Nations Charter and on fundamental rules of international law.

3. The Presidents of Russia and the Philippines came to a mutual understanding that the arrangements reached during the high-level talks would promote a steady development of the entire network of ties between the two States.

4. The Parties reaffirmed their intention to continue the practice of visits at all levels with a view to comparing their approaches to pressing international issues.

5.The Parties believe it is important to expand trade, economic and socio-cultural cooperation giving priority to the promotion of joint projects and initiatives in the sectors of science and technology, agriculture, energy, transport, education, culture and sports.

6. The Parties attach great importance to the launch of the Joint Russian-Philippine Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation which held its first meeting in Manila on April 28, 2017.

7. The Heads of State agreed to step up joint efforts to counter global threats, including international terrorism, cross-border crime and drug trafficking, to establish practical cooperation in the military-technical area, emergency response, maritime security, consistent with each Party’s obligations to international maritime law, and international information security, as well as on the search for collective solutions to these and other common challenges within the United Nations and other multilateral and regional organizations.

8. The Heads of State expressed their readiness to take further measures to expand and boost mutually beneficial inter-regional ties and realize the considerable potential for cooperation in this area.

9. The Parties reiterated their readiness to further enhance cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region and on the international arena on the whole aimed at the creation of favorable conditions for economic growth of both States and contributing to maintaining peace and stability in Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific region.

In this context, the Parties highlighted their shared determination to foster cooperation within the framework of the East Asia Summit (EAS), the ASEAN Regional Forum, the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meetings Plus, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Asia-Europe Meeting, the Asia Cooperation Dialogue and other regional mechanisms in order to promote multilateral approaches for safeguarding security, enhancing economic growth and promoting sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Parties underlined the importance of continuing concerted efforts to shape a security architecture in the Asia-Pacific region which is open, transparent, inclusive, and rules-based in accordance with international law, including the principle of equality, through continuing the relevant EAS dialogue as well as through dialogues in other relevant regional fora.

10. The President of the Russian Federation expressed his support for the efforts by the current Philippines’ chairmanship in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the context of the 50thanniversary of this regional organization celebrated in 2017.

11. The Russian Party highly appreciated the Philippines’ proactive role in the sustained promotion of the ASEAN-Russia Dialogue Partnership. The Parties emphasized their intention to work closely together on making this a strategic partnership in line with the decisions of the ASEAN-Russia Summit in Sochi (May 19–20, 2016), intensifying interaction in such key areas as the improvement of the security architecture and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region, the fight against terror and transnational crime, development of trade and investments, science, technology, energy, agriculture, culture and other exchanges.
12. The Heads of State agreed to further explore cooperation and liberalization of trade as well as foster a favorable climate for an increase in investment flows between the Eurasian Economic Union and ASEAN in the interests of boosting sustainable and inclusive growth amongst the members of both regional groupings.

The Parties also emphasized the prospects which can be created by multilateral communication and coordination to implement various regional and national frameworks and initiatives, including ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and Eurasian partnership based on the principles of equality, openness and transparency.

PH-Russia business forum fosters bilateral relations
MOSCOW, RUSSIA — Delegates of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation gathered on Thursday, May 25, at the Four Seasons Hotel here with Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez at the helm to build up confidence in robust trade and business prospects of signed agreements between the two countries.

Lopez spoke to represent Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, who had to cut short his visit to Russia, following the eruption of violence in Marawi City.

“We want to assure everybody that government is in control of the situation and it is business as usual,” Lopez said before hundreds of businessmen in Russia.

He noted the robust economy in the Philippines and continued confidence of the people in President Duterte’s administration despite the situation in Mindanao.

Deputy Minister Alexander Tsybulsky of the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation welcomed the Filipino delegation and conveyed condolences and understanding of the emergency situation in the Philippines.

The business forum celebrated the signing of agreements between the two chambers with George Barcelon of the PCCI, Presidential Consultant on Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion, and Secretary Fortunato dela Peña of the Department of Science and Technology among the witnesses.

Describing the Philippines as a “bright spot in Asia,” Lopez shared the Duterte administration’s economic program, which goal is to empower the country’s micro, small, and medium enterprises and provide more job opportunities for the people.

In summary, Lopez said the economic program of the Duterte administration ultimately seeks to bring “growth and prosperity and better economic life for all Filipinos.” ###PND

Abella: The rest of the country is doing very well
Davao City — Malacañang on Friday, May 26 assured that the country’s economy will weather effects of the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

In a press briefing here, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella cited a statement from the Department of Finance noting that the economy has ample buffers to withstand adverse effects of the current unrest in Mindanao as traders favor the Philippines.

“Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said: The country’s solid macroeconomic fundamentals buoyed the local bourse, stock market and peso despite President Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao,” he said.

The Palace official also cited the statement of National Treasurer Rosalia De Leon which said that the ample buffers of the Philippines position the country to weather changes in global environment.

“In other words, while certain things need to be addressed in some parts of the nation, the rest of the country is doing very well,” Abella said.

In the same briefing, Abella also announced that starting Monday, there will be a regular daily program, the ‘Mindanao Hour’ that will give updates on the situation in Mindanao.

He also announced that President Duterte signed and submitted by 9:55 p.m. of 25 May the report relative to the proclamation declaring a state of martial law and suspending the Writ of Habeas Corpus’ in the whole of Mindanao.

The report was handed over to the Senate President and Speaker of the House during the special Cabinet meeting at the Presidential Guest House in Davao City. It provides the basis for declaring martial law and suspending the Writ of Habeas Corpus in Mindanao.

Meanwhile, the Palace official said the Press Secretary of the US has expressed solidarity with the Philippines and condemned the recent violence perpetrated by an ISIS-linked terrorist group in Marawi in Southern Philippines.

“He stated that the US will continue to provide support and assistance to Philippine counter-terrorism groups,” Abella added.

On the part of Russia, Abella said Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, has thanked Moscow for its commitment to strengthen cooperation with Manila, particularly in security and intelligence cooperation and in stepping up measures to combat terrorism, specially amid violence in Southern Philippines.

Basis for Martial Law

During the same press briefing, Solicitor General Jose Calida and the Armed Forces of the Philippines assured the public that the proclamation of martial law should not be a cause for alarm for law-abiding citizens.

Solicitor General Calida said that the courts are still functioning that’s why law-abiding citizens should not be worried.

“The least we can do as law-abiding citizens is to repose our trust in the wisdom and determination of President Duterte to excise this evil in our land,” Calida said.

According to the Solicitor General, the Chief Executive has ample factual basis for proclamation of martial law in Mindanao.

“The festering rebellion of the Maute terrorist group which has pledged allegiance to the virulent ISIS, otherwise known as Daesh in Arabic, is a compelling reason why martial law was declared,” he noted.

“Given the above clear and present dangers and atrocities happening in Mindanao, specially in Marawi City, it is the President’s constitutional duty to unsheathe the Republic’s sword of martial law to crush the rebellion that threatens to divide our country,” he added.

For his part, AFP Spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla Jr. said under the new basis for which martial law is declared, “those of the past are very different from the way it is going to be implemented today.”

He further noted that is no reason for the public to be alarmed and fear the declaration of martial law, explaining that it is intended to address the rebellion in Mindanao.

“The Armed Forces will clearly go by all the guidelines that will be issued and the issued guidelines recently by the Department of National Defense where emphasis has been placed on upholding the rule of law and to abide and uphold established laws pertaining to human rights,” the AFP official said.

According to Padilla, the AFP guarantees that martial law will not impede any activities of law-abiding citizens.

“So we will only apply the harshest stand against those committing acts of rebellion,” he said.

The AFP official also encouraged the public to report abuses of those implementing martial law.

“On our hand, we will provide you a swift probe and a quick action to ensure the accountability of our men,” he said.

“Our Armed Forces is a new Armed Forces that you should trust. We are the Armed Forces of the people which oath is to protect the state and every citizen of this country,” he added.

Situation in Marawi

Meanwhile, Padilla assured the public that AFP is not bombing Marawi City.

“We are performing surgical airstrikes with pinpoint accuracy to neutralize these threats that have been impeding the entry and movement of our troops,” he said.

“Again, the assurance that we give you is that we are taking every precaution to avoid collateral damage, damage to private property which you have heavily invested on your whole lives, as well as the loss of innocent lives,” he said.

Padilla reported that the AFP was able to reach parts of the city which have been held by some of these terrorist elements the past few days. ### PND

Duterte vows full support to troops fighting Maute
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Friday, May 26 promised full support for government troops fighting the Maute group in Marawi City.

“May full support kayo sa akin. I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel to look for money to see you through,” Duterte told the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade in Maria Cristina, Iligan City.

In his speech before the soldiers, Duterte vowed that his administration will provide everything they need.

“And because we have the weapons and the equipments and we have the air assets to help you, we will try our very best na magamit lahat to protect you at the time when you are fighting,” Duterte said.

The President also pledged that he will take responsibility for the outcome of martial law in Mindanao.

“Sasamahan ko kayo… If you go down, I go down. But for this martial law and the consequences of martial law and the ramifications of martial law, I and I alone would be responsible, trabaho lang kayo. Ako ng bahala,” he said.

For the wounded soldiers, the President said there is a modernized hospital for them and that he has bought all the equipments needed.

Following his visit to the 2MIB, the President went to the Mindanao Sanitarium and Hospital in Iligan City to visit 29 wounded in action soldiers.

Among the assistance extended to each wounded soldier is P100,000 check.

Duterte then proceeded to St. Peter’s Funeral Homes in Iligan City to pay his last respect to fallen soldiers and policemen.

For the family of each dead policemen and soldier, P250,000 financial assistance will be extended upon completion of requirements.

He also visited the wake of two civilian casualties, an ambulance driver and ambulance utility. ###PND