Duterte visits Russian ship: ‘Come back often’

Christina Mendez - The Philippine Star
Duterte visits Russian ship: �Come back often�
President Duterte leads the flashing of his signature fist gesture during a tour of the visiting Russian anti-submarine ship Admiral Tributs at the South Harbor in Manila yesterday. He was joined by Rear Admiral Eduard Mikhailov, deputy commander of the Russian Navy’s Pacific fleet; Russian Ambassador Igor Khovaev; Lieutenant Commander Artem Kolpaschicov and other ship officers. Also in photo are National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, presidential assistant Bong Go, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano and AFP chief Lt. Gen. Eduardo Anõ.

MANILA, Philippines – After President Duterte declared the country’s move toward an independent foreign policy away from its longest ally the United States, Russian officials immediately gave the Chief Executive a preview of what Moscow could provide during a tour of the Russian anti-submarine ship Admiral Tributs in Manila yesterday.

Officers of the Russian Navy and other officials welcomed the President during his tour, where the Russians displayed their firepower.

According to Radio-TV Malacañang, Duterte was shown the Admiral Tributs’ 2x4-container launchers of Rastrub Rocket Torpedo System.

This was followed by a visit to the bow of the ship where Duterte witnessed a demonstration of the ship’s missile system.

Duterte also got to see various military hardware including the 100-mm AK-100 gun mounts, six-barreled 30-mm AK-630m machine guns and RBU-6000 anti-submarine rocket launchers.

Russian Ambassador Igor Khovaev, the ship’s Commander Artem Kolpaschikov and other Russian delegates accompanied the President during his ship tour.

At the Admiral Tributs’ Ward Room, Duterte signed the ship’s guestbook and wrote a short message for the ship’s commander and crew.

“Mabuhay kayo. From the heart. I hope you come back more often,” Duterte wrote in the guestbook.

The President’s tour of the warship came barely a month after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. visited Moscow to look into possible procurement of Russian military hardware.

Prior to this, Duterte met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Lima, Peru last November. Duterte is set to visit Moscow this year.

During yesterday’s tour, Duterte and his delegation also witnessed a demonstration by Russian divers and went up to the ship’s bridge where the Russian Navy demonstrated its navigation system.

On his way out, Duterte also viewed the Russian Navy Ka-27 helicopter.

Apart from Yasay and Lorenzana, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Eduardo Año and other officers of the Philippine Navy, Air Force and Army accompanied the President on the ship tour.

Lorenzana said the Russian government is intent on boosting bilateral ties with the Philippines. 

They have also expressed interest in providing the Philippine military with equipment, including submarines and drones, in case it wants to procure modern equipment for its arsenal.

The Russian military is hoping to establish further exchange in training and exercises between the two countries, Lorenzana said.

Japanese ships

 Meanwhile, two Japanese ships that arrived in Olongapo City on Wednesday left Subic Bay yesterday while the public was focused on the visit of a Russian anti-submarine vessel in Manila.

Philippine Navy personnel held a Passing Exercise with the visiting Japanese sailors off Corregidor Island prior to their departure from Subic.

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Escort Division with two ships arrived in Subic Bay on Jan. 4 for a three-day port visit.

The division that consists of the JS Inazuma and JS Suzutsuki is headed by Capt. Atsushi Minami, commander of Escort Division Four.

The JMSDF Escort Division Four stayed in the country to replenish supplies, conduct maintenance work and crew rest before returning to Japan after conducting counter piracy operations at the Gulf of Aden.

The visit is expected to enhance the already strong relationship between the Philippine Navy and its Japanese counterpart.

The Philippine Navy said the visit also gave its officers and enlisted personnel a chance to interact with the Japanese sailors to promote camaraderie and naval diplomacy. – With Michael Punongbayan, Jaime Laude

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