MOSCOW, RUSSIA – Several agreements enhancing the relations between the Philippines and the Russian Federation were signed Wednesday night, May 24, in a press conference attended by Cabinet secretaries led by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano.
Agreements related to tourism, agriculture, defense cooperation, trade and industry, foreign affairs, transportation, and culture and the arts pushed through even without Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, who had to rush home following the outbreak of violence in Marawi City involving the Maute group that raised the ISIS flag.
“In fact, I think we covered everything that should have been covered in their bilateral meeting plus other matters that came up because of the terror threats not only in the Philippines or the threat of terrorism but also because of the extensive experience, expertise and knowledge and best practices of the Russian Federation in dealing with ISIS and terrorism,” Cayetano said.
Joining him in the press conference were Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo, Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, and Secretary Fortunato Dela Peña of the Department of Science and Technology, each of whom had been instructed by President Duterte to stay behind and sign the agreements.
Facilitating the press conference was Philippine Ambassador to Russia Carlos D. Sorreta, who read one by one the agreements signed by the department secretaries.
Teo was the first to sign the Joint Action Program for the period 2017-2019 to promote tourism and exhange of best practices between the two countries, noting that he Philippines targets to attract part of the three million Russian tourists who travel to Southeast Asia every year.
Next was Piñol who signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Russian Federation’s Ministry of Agriculture to bring about food security in the Philippines through cooperation and through research in agriculture and fisheries, livestock breeding, processing, and transportation and storage of agriculture and fishery products and other agricultural products.
Third to sign was Cayetano himself who represented the Philippines in the defense cooperation to expand exchanges in terms of training, seminars and best practices between the two countries, with the end to develop relations in the field of military education, including military medicine, military history, sports, and culture as well as experiences in consultation, observer participation in military training exercises, and military port calls.
In his capacity as Foreign Affairs Secretary granted plenary powers and plenipotentiary powers to sign any agreement, Cayetano also signed two more agreements namely the Agreement on Cooperation on Transportation between the Department of Transportation and Russia’s Ministry of Transportation; and the Protocol on Cooperation between the National Commission for Culture and the Arts of the Philippines and Russia’s Ministry of Culture.
The first is an endeavor to exchange technology and best practices in transportation, with the Russian Federation rendering support and technical assistance through exchange of experience and knowledge in transport area, as well as cooperation in the framework of research projects and educational visits. The second intends to promote participation in international film and art festivals held in each other’s countries, as well as exchange of music, circus, dance and theater groups or individual artist “to build closer ties in the area of culture and history.”
Lopez, who is scheduled to represent the Philippines in the business fora, signed two agreements namely the Memorandum of Intent between the Department of Trade and Industry of the Philippines and the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia to foster mutually beneficial trade and investment cooperation between the two countries, and the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Industry Development related to the products and technologies intended to strengthen the industries of both countries.
The last agreement was signed by Dela Peña in the form of a Memorandum of Agreement between the Department of Science and Technology of the Philippines and the State Atomic Energy Corporation, otherwise known as ROSATOM on Cooperation on the Use of Nuclear Energy for Peaceful Purposes.
“The general purpose of this agreement is to develop cooperation in the area of peaceful use of atomic energy in accordance with domestic laws, rules and regulations and, of course, international agreements that govern the peaceful use of atomic energy,” Sorreta said.
Cayetano thanked the Russian Federation, particularly President Vladimir Putin “for his understanding of the situation in the Philippines and the necessity of President Duterte to return home and cut short his trip.”
The Russian President flew back to Moscow and met with President Duterte personally for a meeting that lasted for about an hour and a half, following the latter’s decision to cut short his official visit to Russia. ### PND