President Duterte meets Russian President Putin, seeks closer PH-Russia ties

MOSCOW, RUSSIA — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Tuesday evening, May 23, held a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin here, saying that the Philippines is seeking the friendship of Russia.

The bilateral meeting occurred before Duterte headed back to the Philippines to attend to the incident in Marawi.

In his remarks, President Duterte apologized to President Putin for cutting short his Russian trip, which is his first official visit to the said country, as he explained that there is something urgent that needs to be attended to back home.

“Please consider us as a good friend. I came to visit your place and it’s to establish stronger bilateral relations,” Duterte said.

“I [came] to seek your friendship and to establish trade and commerce with your country,” he said.

President Duterte cut short his first official trip to Russia following the terror incident in Marawi, which led him to declare martial law in Mindanao.

For his part, President Putin expressed his condolences to the casualties of the Marawi incident.

He, however, said he is happy to see President Duterte visiting Moscow.

“I’m so happy to see you in Moscow,” Putin said.

“I have to express our condolences as a matter of fact, loss of lives of your people happened because of a horrible terrorist attack. And my colleagues and myself definitely understand quite well that you do have to come back to return to your motherland,” he said.

“And let me express hope that the conflict that you have just mentioned will be resolved as soon as possible and with minimal losses and casualties,” he added.

The Russian leader noted that bilateral trade between the Philippines and Russia still have room for improvement, noting that starting this year, trade exchanges started to increase by around 25 percent.

“We have very many promising and interesting areas of cooperation, including on energy machine building, transport and infrastructure,” he said.

Putin said that even as President Duterte had to cut short his trip, there will be bilateral documents that will be signed between the Philippines and Russia.

“You and I know that our teams have worked hard and prepared a full package of bilateral documents, instruments. And your ministers as far as I know, are staying and tomorrow the package aiming at the development of bilateral ties will be signed and inked,” Putin said.

Accompanying President Duterte in his bilateral meeting were Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, and Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence Go. ###PND