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President Duterte has moved to enhance the country’s military ties with Russia with his visit to a Russian anti-submarine destroyer docked at a port in Manila.
The President emerged from his holiday break to take a tour inside the massive anti-submarine destroyer Admiral Tributs currently on a five-day goodwill visit to the Philippines along with the large sea tanker Boris Butoma.
Duterte appeared impressed with the modern warship and its weaponry while being briefed by Russian navy officials.
The Chief Executive was accompanied by Sen. Alan Peter S. Cayetano, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr., and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon during the tour of the ship.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella recently said the goodwill visit of the Russian naval ships would contribute to the strengthening of the friendship between the two nations.
“It also is an indication that our maritime cooperation can further be enhanced to enable diplomacy and camaraderie,” Abella said.
Abella said the President was open to the holding of joint military drills with Russia to enhance maritime security cooperation. The President, however, remains opposed to any permanent stay of foreign troops in the country, Abella added.
The President’s visit to the Russian ship was his first public engagement for the New Year. He was last seen in public last December 30 when he led the Rizal Day celebration and checked on the condition of blast victims in Leyte.
Abella explained that the President took some “quiet time, personal time” in Davao City during the holidays.
The President’s ship tour was limited to photo opportunity. Photographers and television crews were allowed to shoot the President’s arrival at the pier but were prohibited from joining the tour. (Genalyn D. Kabiling)