By Genalyn D. Kabiling
DA NANG, Vietnam — Russia has offered to provide counter-terrorism training to Filipino soldiers, and build a ship repair facility for Russia vessels passing through the Philippines.
The latest Russian initiatives were part of the intensified defense cooperation reached in a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in Vietnam on Friday.
The two leaders met on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit to discuss ways to deepen both economic and military relations.
“There’s a proposal to build a maintenance center for Russian ships in the Philippines,” Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.
“He also invited the Philippine military to train in Russia, and that the Russians will establish or appoint a military attaché in Manila. It’s important to keep developing close relationship with the Philippines,” he added.
He said Putin also endorsed stronger coordination between the two governments, citing upcoming visit of the Russia defense military to the Philippines. “We should look forward to signing military and technical agreements,” he added.
In the meeting, Roque said Russia also offered to sell helicopters, 10 high-speed boats and other military weapons to the Philippines.
President Duterte, for his part, welcomed Russia’s plan to establish a ship repair facility in the Philippines to serve its ships.
Duterte also agreed to send Filipino soldiers for training to Russia, according to Roque.
“He emphasized that what we want is friendship with all countries and we do not want any trouble with any other country,” Roque said.
“He says that he does not want to participate in conflicts between big powers and he appreciates that Russia has shown good faith,” he added.
Roque said the President also expressed intention to buy weapons from Russia to be used for anti-terrorism efforts, adding Duterte no longer wants to purchase second hand equipment from the United States.
He said Duterte told Putin about the country’s “very bad experience” with two of the three US second-hand helicopters that crashed.
“He has decided that he will no longer purchase military hardware which are in bad condition,” Roque said. “The Philippines will buy brand new military armaments from Russia because Russia is very good manufacturer of machines and equipment,” he added.
Roque said the President was also appreciative of Russia’s donated weapons that recently helped local government troops to beat the Islamic State-inspired terrorists in Marawi City.
“Now, when Russia gave us assistance at the time we needed it, the President said that this proves beyond all doubts that Russia is a good friend and that he emphasized again that the arms are intended to fight terrorism,” he said.
Towards the end of the meeting with Putin, Duterte divulged plans to appoint “a special envoy for military and to improve trade relations with Russia.”
Tags: Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, Da Nang, Filipino soldiers, Harry Roque, Intensified defense cooperation between PH Russia, Manila Bulletin, military weapons, Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, Russia, Russia defense military, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russian ships, ship repair facility, Vietnam