By Victor Reyes and Jocelyn Montemayor
DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana yesterday said he expects Russian officials to offer various defense equipment for acquisition under the Armed Forces modernization program during President Duterte’s visit to Russia.
Duterte left last night aboard a chartered flight to Moscow for his October 1-6 visit that will be highlighted by a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Lorenzana was in the official delegation, along with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Agriculture Secretary William Dar, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, and Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.
“Of course they will interest us to buy their equipment: transport helicopters, attack helicopters, multi-role fighters, ships, drones, tanks, etc.,” Lorenzana told reporters on Monday night.
“They will give us a catalog of their products for our consideration,” he added.
Asked if the acquisition of submarines from Russia will be discussed during the visit, Lorenzana said: “Maybe. But I am not sure.”
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra was named officer-in-charge from October 1 to 6 while Duterte is in Russia, “to ensure continuity of government service” and to “take care of the day to day operations and oversee the general administration of the Executive Department.”
The President, on October 1, signed Special Order No. 1061 that named Guevarra as OIC and gave him the authority “if necessary, act for an on behalf of the President, except on matters that the President is required by the Constitution to act in person,” during the time that the President is in Russia.
“All acts of DOJ Secretary Guevarra for and on behalf of the President pursuant to this order shall be deemed acts of the President unless disapproved or reprobated by the President,” the special order read.
The President and the Russian leader, during their bilateral meeting, are expected to talk about the state of the bilateral relations of the two counties and how it can be enhanced. They are also expected to discuss and exchange views on regional and global developments, among others.
This will be the fourth meeting of the two Presidents. They first met in November 2016 on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Peru, which was followed by Duterte’s visit to Russia in May 2017, and their meeting in November 2017 on the sidelines of the APEC Summit in Da Nang, Vietnam.