Duterte thanks Putin for weapons aid
MANILA, Philippines – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte had a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, November 10, in Da Nang, Vietnam where they discussed security issues and trade, among other topics.
The two leaders met on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit at around 2:30 pm Vietnam time (3:30 pm, Manila time).
"I want to pass on words of thanks from the Philippine people for the timely aid that Russia provided by giving us trucks and weapons," Duterte told the Russian president.
It is their first meeting since Duterte visited Moscow, Russia in mid-May. The visit was cut short when the Marawi crisis forced the President to return home.
The Marawi conflict was a topic during the first part of their meeting. Duterte thanked Putin for Russian assistance in the liberation of Marawi.
Russia had earlier sent the Philippines 5,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles and 20 military trucks.
Duterte said the military "was delighted at the weapons" in remarks translated into Russian.
"These are high-precision weapons. We had to lead a new type of warfare, we had to fight snipers... we were fighting back house-by-house. That's not so easy," Duterte told Putin.
Duterte said he initially intended to buy weapons in the US but "the United States has equal authority of Congress and President, so it was not so simple."
"The weapons we received from Russia, modern weapons, were given to special police regiments. That was very important. I intend to continue buying these weapons in the future."
In a reserved response, Putin said that "weapons are important" but Duterte's "readiness... to fight the threat of terrorism" is even more significant.
"We are ready to develop our relations, including in the military sphere," the Russian president said.
Duterte was accompanied to the meeting by several Cabinet officials, including Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez, Socio-economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, and Special Assistant to the President Bong Go.
Also present was newly-appointed Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff General Rey Leonardo Guerrero. – with reports by AFP/Rappler.com