Rosemarie A. Zamora
President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Friday, Nov. 10, had a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the sidelines of the 25th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in Da Nang, Vietnam.
During the bilateral meeting, Mr. Duterte expressed his gratitude to Mr. Putin for its donation of military equipment to the Philippines.
“And I would like to convey to you the gratitude of the Filipino people for your timely assistance, especially the trucks and the arms that you sent because we have to replenish — the supplies were getting low,” he said.
On Oct. 25, the Russian government has turned over 5,000 Kalashnikov rifles, 20 units of military trucks, one million units of 1943-cartridges with steel core bullets, and 5,000 units of steel to the Philippines.
Mr. Duterte also said that he intended to buy arms from the United States but because of the “almost equal power of the US Congress and the President, it is always stymied by the legislators.”
“So the 23,000 that I ordered was scrapped and your timely assistance to my country helped us replenish the old arms and the spent bores that were fired repeatedly and we have a new stock,” he said.
“So, the new arms that I got from you, Sir, were given to the special units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. In a way, you helped us turn the tide and to shorten the war there because of your assistance,” he added.
He also said that he wants to build a strong armed forces and a strong police during his term, and to be able to do so, he would buy arms from Russia, as the military said that the arms donated were accurate and were able to help neutralize snipers of the ISIS-inspired Maute Group.
In October, the governments of the Republic of the Philippines and the Russian Federation signed two agreements on the sidelines of the 4th Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus, including the Agreement for Military-Technical Cooperation between the two countries, which contained provisions on various areas of military and technical cooperation.
Another agreement signed was a contract for the Philippines’ procurement of defense articles from Rosoboronexport, a Russian state-owned company
Mr. Putin, meanwhile, has lauded Mr. Duterte for the latter’ actions to quell the rebellion in Marawi.
“I do remember how you had to cut short your visit to Russia due to terrorist attack in your country,” he told Mr. Duterte.
“Now, I do remember your final words. You told me while you were leaving Russia, you told me that you had to go back and install law and order to attack terrorists that’s why I’d like to say that you managed to do just that,” he added.
On Oct. 17, Mr. Duterte declared Marawi City liberated from terrorists after 154 days of fighting, which killed more than 1,000 people and displaced nearly 400,000 residents.