By Genalyn Kabiling
Russia has renewed its commitment to help the Philippines combat terrorism in the wake of the twin explosions in Jolo, Sulu.
Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev relayed Moscow’s message of support and sympathy during a courtesy call on President Duterte in Malacañang Thursday afternoon.
“The Russian ambassador reiterated their condolences for the deaths caused by the twin explosions in Jolo and condemned the incident while reaffirming their country’s commitment to help our nation combat terrorism,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
“Russian Ambassador Khovaev likewise renewed Russia’s commitment to strengthen their cooperation to help our national defense and significantly improve its capabilities,” he added.
He said the Russian ambassador also expressed Russia’s plan “to build a long-term relationship with the Philippines based on trust and confidence.”
Panelo said the President thanked Russia for its support to the Philippines and renewed his resolve to further strengthen their bilateral relations.
“In response, PRRD reaffirmed the importance placed by the Philippines on its relations with Russia and renewed the commitment to further expand and deepen our country’s cooperative ties with them,” he said.
“PRRD also thanked the Russian ambassador for the expression of sympathy for the lives lost in Jolo and underscored that the Philippines values its relations with countries that share the commitment to combat terrorism and violent extremism,” he added.
Two terror attacks hit the Jolo Cathedral last Sunday, leaving 22 people dead and several others wounded. The government has denounced the acts of terrorism and vowed to pursue the godless criminals behind the church blasts.
Outraged by the incident, President Duterte has authorized the military to use land, air, and sea assets, including launching bomb strikes, to destroy the Abu Sayyaf Group believed to be behind the Jolo bombings. He had earlier said authorities suspected a couple was behind the suicide attacks in Jolo.