AS PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte flew home from a historic trip to China, Russia declared its readiness to assist the Philippines, saying Manila just has to formulate its “wish list” to jump-start discussions, Moscow’s envoy in Manila said Friday.
“Please formulate your wish list. What kind of assistance do you expect from Russia and we will be ready to sit down with you and discuss what can and should be done,” Russian Ambassador Igor Khovaev said in an interview with the GMA News television network.
“A true Russia is much, much different from what is being portrayed by Hollywood movies. [The Philippines and Russia] deserve to know each other much, much better. It’s time to discover,” the envoy said after Duterte declared that he will “separate” Manila from its long-time relationship with Washington.
It was the most encouraging pronouncement from Moscow after Philippine Ambassador to Russia Carlos Sorreta pursued talks with Moscow early October over possible agreements under Russia’s Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC).
A foreign office insider said the Philippines is studying the acquisition of two or four of MI17 or MI24 helicopter gunships to improve the country’s capability against possible internal and external threats.
Khovaev, one of the first foreign ambassadors to meet Duterte in Davao City days after the May 9 elections, said Russia is open to any kind of cooperation with the Philippines.
Khovaev said he was impressed by Duterte during a “very productive” meeting where they discussed how to jump-start Philippine-Russian relations which officially started only in 1976.
Even after their meeting in May, Khovaev had already said that it was “time for Russians to discover the Philippines, and it is time for the Philippines to discover Russia,” adding that strengthened trade cooperation could begin before the end of this year.
The Russian envoy said there is much potential in the two country’s bilateral ties because “there were no disputes and no contradictions” and only develop “cooperation in practical terms.”
Duterte initiated talks with Russia and China amid an apparent frustration at the United States which had repeatedly rejected Philippines requests for military equipment even during the previous administration.
An administration source said Duterte’s dislike for the Americans stemmed from the United States’ repeated rejection for the Philippines to acquire helicopters and night-visioned-drones.
The source said, during the previous administration, President Benigno Aquino III has requested from the United States to help them acquire helicopters, drones and other military equipment to improve defense capabilities against inside and outside threats, but it had been turned down.
The source said the Americans were “afraid that the government would use these against civilians.”
While refusing the Philippines, the US is giving China and Pakistan helicopters and drones, the source said.
“The ships they provided us were gutted already. And we had to buy back the equipment. The C130 are also headed to the boneyard,” the administration source said.
The source added that this angered Duterte shortly after he took office.
The Philippine ambassador to Russia Carlos Sorreta has already announced a plan to acquire military equipment and technology from Russia.
He said in an earlier statement that officials of FSMTC briefed them on the different modes of financing on acquiring military equipment or technology.
An insider confirmed that the Philippines is set to acquire either two or four of MI17 or MI24 to improve the country’s capability against possible internal and external threats.
COMMENT DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted on this Web site are not in any way endorsed by Manila Standard. Comments are views by manilastandard.net readers who exercise their right to free expression and they do not necessarily represent or reflect the position or viewpoint of manilastandard.net. While reserving this publication’s right to delete comments that are deemed offensive, indecent or inconsistent with Manila Standard editorial standards, Manila Standard may not be held liable for any false information posted by readers in this comments section.