Duterte to board Russian warship
President Rodrigo Duterte is set to board on Friday a Russian warship docked in Manila Bay, Malacanang said on Thursday.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella added Duterte earlier announced he is "open to joint military exercises with Russia."
"The goodwill visit by the Russian Navy will contribute to the strengthening of friendship with the Philippine Navy. It is also an indication that our maritime cooperation can further be enhanced to enable diplomacy and camaraderie," Abella said.
Duterte is expected to visit the Russian anti-submarine ship at Manila Port at around noon. Two Russian warships have been docked in Manila Bay for a four-day goodwill visit.
The president, who has declared an independent foreign policy, has expressed intention to forge closer ties with Russia and China and to distance the country from the United States.
Duterte is planning to visit Russia this year upon the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The two leaders had their first meeting at the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders' Meeting in Peru in November. Duterte has said Putin is his "idol."
On Saturday, the Russian and Philippine navies are set to conduct passing exercise off the waters of Manila Bay..
Captain Lued Lincuna, Philippine Navy spokesman, said:“ That’s part of the send-off ceremony and naval customs and tradition where we render passing exercise (Passex) to any visiting navy.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Rear Admiral. Eduard Mikhailov, Deputy Commander of Flotilla of Pacific Fleet of Russia said the exercise will include communications and maneuvers at sea.
“As I have mention during the briefing, these maneuvers will take place on January 7 when we start our route from the point of Manila there will be exercises and communication and maneuvering in the territorial waters of the Philippines,” he said.
The exercise will be joined by Admiral Tributs, a Russian anti-submarine ship, Boris Butoma, a large sea tanker and BRP Humabon (PF11), a cannon class destroyer escort ship of the Philippine Navy.
“We have to communicate thru voice radio and PF11 will do the task,” Lincuna said.
Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev emphasized the importance of such exercise between the two navies citing different technical standards of Russian and Philippine navy vessels.
“It’s really important, as far as I understand, simply because your navy and Russian navy, so they used different equipment based on different technical standards so it’s very important to establish communication lines within our navies because without this communication lines it will not be possible to cooperate to solve any common problem that’s all,” he said. Celerina Monte, Robina Asido/DMS