March 27, 2017, 6:40 pm
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Duterte to visit Moscow

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Roa Duterte has announced that he’s going to Moscow where he’ll meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom he once described as his “idol and hero.”

In a speech before the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Lapu-Lapu City, President Duterte disclosed that he’ll fly to Moscow, the Russian capital, on May 25, two months from today. In his own words, he said: “Sabi man ng Russia (Russia said), “We have everything you need. Just come here. So I’m going there on May 25.”

Actually, Duterte first met Putin on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Lima, Peru in November last year. It was during time when Putin extended to Duterte an invitation to visit Russia and strengthen the two countries’ bilateral relationship.

As part of the Philippines’ new independent foreign policy, Manila under the leadership of President Duterte has been seeking warmer ties with Russia. 

Joining President Duterte on his flight to Moscow is Maj, Gen. Oscar Lactao, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Central Command.

Incidentally, Russian Ambassador to Manila Igor Khovaev has described Duterte’s visit to Moscow as a “milestone” in the relationship between the two countries. “Both the Russian and Philippine side, we need to prepare substantial and solid package of bilateral agreements on cooperation in different fields, and we are now taking necessary efforts,” he said.

The Philippines’ alliances with other countries, such as the United States, will not be excluded despite Manila efforts to forge warmer ties with Russia, assured Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella. The President’s decision to pivot with Russia forms part of this country’s independent foreign policy.

Just before President Duterte flies to Moscow, he left for his first state visit to Myanmar yesterday. During his two-day visit, he will meet Myanmar’s President U Him Kyaw. They are expected to strengthen bilateral relations between the two Asean-member countries. 

“Myanmar is our Asian neighbour and friend with whom we’ve had relations for more than six decades,” Duterte said.

After his visit in Myanmar, he’ll proceed to Bangkok, Thailand, which has been a friend for 67 years, where he will meet Thai Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-Cha and discuss the strengthening of defense relations, intensifying trade and investment, and enhancing education, cooperation, and witness the signing of agreements in agriculture, science and technology, energy and education between the two countries.

President Duterte is scheduled to be back in the country on Thursday. 

***

No less than President Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo have been threatened with impeachment cases in the House of Representatives.

Duterte brushed off as “nothing but a disruption of public service” an impeachment complaint filed against him by Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano. He said that the case was another annoying scheme of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and his group to sow disorder against and his administration.

In the case of Robredo, it was Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez who announced that he’s considering her impeachment.

Vice President Robredo, Alvarez said, might have betrayed public trust in sending a video message to the United Nations criticizing President Duterte’s war on drugs, which she claimed resulted in the killing of more than drug suspects by the police and vigilantes. Alvarez also linked her to the impeachment case against Duterte. 

Well, there is indeed need for what has been dubbed by a political observer as “an impeachment ceasefire” between the political camps of President Duterte and Vice President Robredo “to avoid further polarizing and already divided nation.” 

***

During the observance of International Women’s Day last March 8, President Duterte vowed to continue to promote gender equality and the development of the women sector in this country.

This day is a “celebration in honor of women’s collective efforts to push social, economic, cultural and political reforms affecting women’s rights and conditions,” Duterte said. “Generations have been witness to the amazing way by which women have transformed societies.... Indeed, women are heroes!”

“The Philippines ranks high in Asia-Pacific region and in the world in terms of gender equality,” he concluded. “My administration shall strive to maintain the distinction as well as continue to recognize their invaluable contributions in sports, science, governance, education, public service and the arts.”

***

China has sent word recognizing Philippine sovereignty rights over the 13-million hectare Benham Rise and it is not going to claim ownership of the undersea region off the coast of eastern Luzon, according to acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo.

Benham Rise is located in the Philippine Sea, 200 kilometers east of the coastline of Dinapigue, Isabela. 

***

Thought of the Day: “In politics there are demagogues, who incite acts of violence and hatred, who seek gain at the expense of others.” – Anon.
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