On summit sidelines, PH wins support for Marawi rehab
President Rodrigo Duterte secured commitments to help rebuild Marawi and counterterrorism, as well as loans and cooperation agreements from several countries during talks with their leaders on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit this week.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told Mr. Duterte his country was willing to help the Philippines fight terrorism and provide weapons to Filipino troops.
“We’ll keep standing by your side. We’ll keep assisting you,” Medvedev promised during their meeting on Monday.
Russia has already donated 5,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles, one million rounds of ammunition and 20 army trucks to the Philippines and Mr. Duterte thanked Medvedev for the help during a “crucial moment” in the fight against pro-Islamic State militants in Marawi.
Medvedev said Moscow was ready to expand political, cultural, trade and economic cooperation with Manila.
Manila and Moscow also signed a treaty on mutual legal assistance on criminal matters and another on extradition. They also sealed an understanding on energy, mass communications, transport education, higher education, intellectual property and audit.
From Japan, the Philippines obtained a 114 billion yen ($1 billion) loan to finance part of the Metro Manila Subway Project and a bypass road in Bulacan and a 2.5 billion yen ($22 million) grant for the reconstruction of Marawi and counterterrorism operations.
It also got a 15.928 billion yen ($140 million) loan for the Cavite Industrial Area Flood Risk Management Project. A TC-90 trainer aircraft would be donated by Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force.
Mr. Duterte on Monday assured Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of the Philippines’ support for its opposition to North Korea’s missile launches, which he condemned.
“We have said it several times already in the past that it is not to the interest of North Korea to swagger around and threaten the world, of keeping us hostage with the atomic weapons,” he said.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un “should realize that he’d be responsible for ending life in this planet if his mind goes out of control,” he added.
During their Monday meeting, Mr. Duterte told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi the Philippines wanted Indian investors to produce cheaper medicines here “because we are a poor country.”
He told Modi he might send a trade, finance and agriculture mission to India to increase bilateral trade.
Also on Monday, Mr. Duterte told South Korean President Moon Jae-in that the Philippines was seeking South Korean investments in manufacturing, automotive, food production and processing, agribusiness, electronics and energy.
Moon called the Philippines “our longtime friend” that was visited by 1.5 million Koreans yearly. He sought assurances for his countrymen’s safety and comfort while in the Philippines and promised the same for Filipinos visiting Korea. He invited Filipinos to the Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang in February.
Mr. Duterte on Sunday thanked Brunei Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah for helping the Philippines whenever the country was hit by a disaster.
During their talks on Sunday, Mr. Duterte told Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that the Philippines was concerned about the continued military buildup in the South China Sea.
The two leaders discussed the crafting of a binding Code of Conduct in the strategic waterway, extremism, illegal drugs and trade.
Turnbull commended Mr. Duterte for crushing the extremists who had rampaged through Marawi.
On Monday, Turnbull told journalists the two countries were “in the same fight—the fight for freedom,” referring to their counterterrorism cooperation in Marawi.
“It is a global fight,” Malcolm said during a visit to the Armed Forces of the Philippines headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo. —With a report from Jaymee T. Gamil
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