PRESIDENT Duterte yesterday said the “reinvigorated friendship” of the Philippines with Russia is starting to bear fruit as he boasted of P620 million worth of business deals signed between Manila and Moscow and renewed commitments between the two countries to broaden all areas of cooperation.
The President arrived yesterday in Davao City from an official visit to Russia where he had meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow.
He also met with Russian businessmen whom he invited to invest in the country; addressed academics and students after receiving an honorary doctorate degree from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations University; addressed the Forum of the Valdai Discussion Club together with Putin and the leaders of Jordan, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan; and promoted the Philippine culture during a presentation of the Philippine Madrigal Singers and the Bayanihan National Folk Dance Company for the Filipino and Russian audience.
“The reinvigorated friendship with Russia is starting to bear fruit. Russia recently accredited two additional Philippine fishery establishments. This will allow Filipino fishing companies to export our tuna and other products to Russia and the larger market of the Eurasian bloc,” he said.
“More than P620 million in business deals were also signed during the Philippines-Russia Business Forum in Moscow. We hope that these contracts will generate more jobs and economic opportunities for many Filipinos. This is only the beginning. The horizon is wide.
There is room for significant growth,” he added.
The President also said he has a “bad case of cold” and was unable to sleep in his flight back to the country.
During the official visit, Duterte and Putin witnessed the signing of the several cooperation agreements namely:
* Memorandum of understanding (MOU) on cooperation on information exchange and collaboration on business development aimed at promoting trade and investment between the Philippines and Russia, members of Russia-ASEAN Business Council, and Philippine companies.
* Memorandum of intent on exchange of information on investment environment and opportunities; attracting and supporting foreign investments in both the Philippines and Russia; encouraging local companies to set up or expand their businesses; and organizing business missions, workshops, other bilateral investments promotion activities.
* Memorandum of intent on intention to jointly explore prospects of cooperation in the construction of nuclear power plants in the Philippines.
* MOUs for Century Pacific Food Inc. to supply tuna and sardine products to Magnit Food Retail Chain, Dalimo, and LLC Dalpromryba.
* MOU for Century Pacific Agricultural Ventures Inc. to supply coconut milk products to Panasia Impex Co. Ltd.
* Distributorship agreement appointing Lifetruck International Inc. as exclusive sole distributor for the distribution, promotion, and sale of Sturmanskie watches and Kamaz vehicles.
* Memorandum of agreement for the promotion, distribution, and sale of IPP-NLS technologies, particularly Metatron Micro MRI Systems and its variations, in the Philippines.
“We reaffirmed the Philippines’ strong commitment to a robust and comprehensive partnership with the Russian Federation on the basis of mutual respect, trust, and pragmatism. And working with Russia, we have achieved much,” Duterte said.
The President said that in his meetings with Putin and Medvedev, they talked about broadening ties through cooperation on security and defense, trade and investment, agriculture, energy, science and technology, and socio-cultural exchanges. Cooperation agreements on scientific research, health, culture, foreign policy consultations, and the “peaceful uses of energy” were signed.
“The gains we have made in this visit bring us a step closer to our objective of a stable, comfortable, and secure life for all Filipinos. That is my vision for and bounden duty to the nation and I will do everything to achieve that — towards that end,” he added.
The President said there would be further discussions on the agreements signed in Russia when he meets with his Cabinet on Friday, including those on “peaceful uses of energy” which includes nuclear power plants.
He said the “Constitution would not like” the construction and use of nuclear plants which is why he needs to consult the Cabinet first.
The President acknowledged there are other alternative sources of energy like solar but he said these are too expensive and do not guarantee it would meet all the country’s power needs.
OFWS IN RUSSIA
On Saturday night before leaving Russia, Duterte met with the Filipino community in Moscow and told them to “obey” Russian laws and avoid anything that could “jeopardize” the relations between the two countries.
He said the Philippines and Russia are working on an agreement that will address the concerns, especially of the undocumented and overstaying workers there. and those who need to renew their passports and similar documents.
He said there are about 10,000 Filipinos in Russia, including those who are undocumented and those who must renew their passports and reapply for work documents to legitimize their stay.
He also said Russia gave the assurance it would not crack down on illegal immigrants.
Ambassador to Russia Carlos Sorreta said many of the Filipinos in Russia are child care and household workers.