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PH defense partnership with Russia won’t affect US ties—Lorenzana

/ 05:36 PM January 09, 2017
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana INQUIRER PHOTO/LYN RILLON

The Philippines will soon start to work on a memorandum of understanding for its enhanced defense relations with Russia but it will not affect its alliance with the United States.

“No. Wala tayong alliance dito. Military to military cooperation ito (We don’t have an alliance. This is a military to military cooperation),” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told reporters on Monday.

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“Hindi naman ‘yung katulad sa US na treaty, Mutual Defense Treaty na pagka-aatakihin tayo tulungan tayo. Wala tayong ganun sa Russia,” he said.

(It’s not the same as the treaty with US, the Mutual Defense Treaty, where if we get attacked, they help us. We don’t have that with Russia.)

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The defense secretary said they will continue to work on the MOU that was initially drafted during the time of President Benigno Aquino III.

“Hindi umurong (It didn’t move forward) so we are going to finish this. Halos tapos na ‘yung draft (The draft is almost done) and it will be one of the documents that will be signed kung matatapos ‘yung mga nitty-gritty (if the nitty-gritty will be tackled),” he said.

The agreement is aimed to be signed when President Rodrigo Duterte is scheduled to visit Russia in April or May.

The Philippines has a Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States, its long-time ally, since 1951.

Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev said last week that they are interested to build a defense cooperation with the Philippines, but they are against close military alliance as security “must be equal to all members of the international community.”

READ: Russia open to defense cooperation but no formal military alliance

He said they are ready to be the Philippines’ “new reliable partner” but at the same time they also have no interest to interfere with the Philippines’ traditional partners.

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Part of the MOU includes exchange of military personnel, sending observers to exercises, and eventually, holding joint exercises.

“The Russians said that they would like to have exercises with us especially maritime pero ‘yung ilalagay natin acceptable kasi dadaan pa ‘yan sa DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs),” he said.

(What we’ll put are the ones that are acceptable because it will go through the DFA.)

Russian officials will also visit the country this month to discuss possible acquisition of weapons, he said.

Khovaev said last week that they are ready to supply modern firearms to the Philippines.

President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly expressed interest of establishing an alliance with Russia, as he threatens to shift from the international ties with the United States, which has criticized his war on drugs.

Last week, two Russian vessels were in the country for a goodwill visit. Duterte himself visited the anti-submarine warship Admiral Tributs last Friday at South Harbor. JE

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TAGS: cooperation, Defense, Delfin Lorenzana, Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, Military, Russia, US
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