Philippines’ Duterte tours Russian warship amid warming ties

Philippines' Duterte tours Russian warship amid warming ties

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte toured one of the two Russian warships docked in Manila on Friday in another gesture of warming ties with Moscow as he shifts his country’s foreign policy away from long-time ally, the United States.

Rear Adm. Eduard Mikhailov, deputy commander of Russia’s Pacific Fleet, and Russian Ambassador Igor Khovaev and escorted Duterte and several cabinet members around the anti-submarine ship Admiral Tributs.

At one point during the hourlong visit, Duterte looked out from the ship’s deck and pumped his fist in the air.

He was also shown equipment and weapons on board the ship and peered from binoculars from a chair. He took a group picture with the Russians also posing in his trademark pose — with arm stretched out at chest-level and fists closed.

After signing a guest book, he said “Friends, long live!” He added: “That’s from the heart; I hope you can come back more often.”

Russia is eyeing naval exercises with the Philippines and deployed the Admiral Tributs and sea tanker Boris Butoma on a five-day goodwill visit to Manila.

Filipinos were allowed to tour the huge ships and Russian marines demonstrated their combat capabilities. Tobacco and beer magnate Lucio Tan, the 4th richest Filipino according to Forbes magazine, was among civilians who toured the ship.

Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who accompanied Duterte on the ship tour, expressed optimism about “the start of a partnership” between the two countries’ defence establishments when he met with Russian navy officials Thursday night.

“May our common aspirations for regional and global peace and security enable us to become good partners, co-operating and co-ordinating towards tranquil and safe seas for all,” Lorenzana said on board the Admiral Tributs.

He said during his trip to Russia in early December, he agreed with Russian defence officials to finalize a memorandum of understanding that will be the basis of future military engagements, including joint military exercises, so it can be signed during Duterte’s planned trip to Russia in April.

The visit by the Russian navy ships is the third to the Philippines and the first under Duterte, who took office in June. Duterte has lashed out at outgoing President Barack Obama and his administration for criticizing Duterte’s deadly crackdown on illegal drugs which is feared to have left more than 6,000 suspected drug users and dealers dead.

Contrastingly, he has reached out to China and Russia — whose leaders he has met recently — in a dramatic shift in Philippine foreign policy that has put Washington in a dilemma.

The Philippines has depended heavily on the U.S., its treaty ally, for weapons, ships and aircraft for years, although it has turned to other countries for defence equipment.

After visiting Moscow last month, Lorenzana said the Philippine military was considering purchasing sniper rifles from Russia.

The Associated Press

Just Posted

Program helps families on tight budgets afford healthy foods

Nutritional coupon program allows participants to buy more fruits, vegetables

Salmon returns remain low on some South Island rivers

DFO officials say more fish returning after slow start

Orca-inspired sculpture pitched for Victoria Johnson Street Bridge park

Designs unveiled as part of plans for public space around bridge

New Topaz Park plans include second Victoria skatepark

Splashpad, pickleball court and fenced off-leash parks being considered

Island Health sends out call to staff supervised consumption service in Victoria

Request for proposals open until January, site to open in late spring 2018

Me Too At Work: Sexual assault and harassment in the B.C. workplace

Introducing an in-depth look at who is affected and what can be done

More than 20,000 pounds of garbage removed from riverside homeless camps

Two camps taken down last week on the banks of the Fraser and Chilliwack rivers

Suspect in Revelstoke standoff killed himself: RCMP

Mohammadali Darabi, suspect in the Calgary homicide of his roommate, was stopped in Revelstoke

Clinton visits Vancouver, applauds Trudeau, celebrates Democrats’ win in Alabama

Clinton told crowd she cheered when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed the country’s first gender-balanced cabinet.

VIDEO: Salt Spring Islanders ferry piano to their floating home

Everyone enjoys a little music on the water, but not everyone has a piano on their boat

Victoria water main break forces closure of George Jay elementary for the day

City crews were able to restore water service to school by mid-afternoon

Vikes make bid to host national men’s basketball championships in 2019

Langford, Bear Mountain join UVic bid for nationals

Bomb detonated in Kamloops neighbourhood

Kamloops RCMP are investigating after an improvised explosive device was detonated Wednesday morning

Big Christmas donation

Village Foods helps out Sooke Christmas Bureau with $3,000 food donation

Most Read