DAVAO CITY— President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Monday left for Russia, saying that his landmark visit will emphasize the Philippines’ independent foreign policy.
In his departure statement, the Chief Executive said the most anticipated visit highlights the independence of the Philippines’ foreign policy and the firm resolve to broaden the horizons of friendship and cooperation with other nations.
He further noted that Russia is a country that the Philippines must work with and that there are opportunities for cooperation that cannot be ignored.
“With its geographic footprint in the Asia-Pacific region and its strategic interests in the region, a positive engagement is required to find areas of synergies in interests,” Duterte said in a statement at the Davao International Airport prior to his departure.
The President also hopes that the official visit will lay the firm foundation for a “robust, comprehensive, and mutually-beneficial Philippines–Russia partnership.”
During the four-day official visit, the President will be accompanied by heads of the Philippine legislature and key Cabinet officials. He said the high-level delegation is befitting the level of importance “my government places on writing of a new chapter of Philippines–Russia relationship.”
According to Duterte, the doors for cooperation have opened 40 years ago but it has opened ever so slightly.
“There is much room to develop mutually beneficial cooperation. There are many opportunities that needed to be explored,” he said adding that both countries can now work together “to open those doors even wider.”
President Duterte said his administration will give the Philippines-Russia relations the importance commensurate to its full potential.
“We will push for pragmatic engagement in the politico-security sphere, increased economic cooperation, and enhanced cultural and people-to-people exchanges,” he added.
In his meeting with President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow, the President said ways of charting the future direction of our partnership across many areas will be discussed.
Duterte said they will exchange views on regional and international issues to determine how to best advance shared interests.
In his first official visit to Russia, the Chief Executive also eyes to take the opportunity to engage Russian business leaders and let them know that “Philippines means serious business.”
“With the Philippines’ emphasis on sustaining our economic growth, we seek responsible economic partners who will become our new allies in development,” he said.
Aside from meeting business leaders in Russia, the President said he will also engage with the Russian youth who should know that “Filipinos consider Russia as friends and that we seek nothing more than a friendship of equals based on mutual respect.”
“My visit gives the rare opportunity for the Russian people, through various events and activities, to know more about the Philippines and our people,” he said.
Duterte will also take time to meet with the Filipino community in Russia to thank them for their contributions to nation building.
“I will also tell them that your Government continues to work very hard to give you the country and future you all deserve,” he said.