The Philippines and the Russian Federation will be speeding up negotiations on a number of bilateral agreements that are expected to boost Manila’s ongoing campaign against terrorism, drug trafficking and criminality in the country.
This was disclosed by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano following his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sides of the recent ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting at the Philippine International Convention Center.
“Minister Lavrov and I both agreed to fast track negotiations for pending bilateral agreements, particularly on military-technical cooperation, illegal narcotics, and law enforcement,” Secretary Cayetano said.
He also expressed Manila’s appreciation for Moscow’s support and its offer of assistance to improve the capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police in dealing with the threat posed by Islamic State-affiliate terrorist groups operating in Mindanao.
“Russia’s offer to assist is of vital importance to the Philippines, especially given its great expertise, vast experience and modern equipment in dealing with terrorism and other security concerns,” Secretary Cayetano said.
During their meeting, Secretary Cayetano said he was requested by Minister Lavrov to convey to President Duterte Moscow’s “solidarity with his efforts to eliminate any extremist threat to your country and our appreciation for your solidarity with Russia’s fight against terrorism.”
“We believe terrorism is something that must unite all of us,” Secretary Cayetano quoted Minister Lavrov as saying after he was told about ongoing efforts to prevent the Islamic extremist threat from spreading to the rest of the Philippines.
Secretary Cayetano said he thanked Minister Lavrov for the offer of the Russian Ministry for Civil Defense, Emergencies and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters to send a cargo aircraft carrying relief assistance for displaced families in Marawi.
He told Minister Lavrov that President Duterte has declared the immediate rehabilitation of Marawi as a priority and that he has allocated P20 billion to fund reconstruction and development programs for the city and its affected residents.
During the meeting, the two foreign ministers also discussed trade and investment, education and research and other areas of cooperation that the Philippines and Russia could explore.
Secretary Cayetano said Manila intends to continue pursuing what he described as the “irreversible momentum” in Philippine-Russia relations resulting from the independent foreign policy being implemented by the Duterte Administration. (based on DFA release)