Bilateral agreements signed in Russia

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte meets with Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow prior to his return to the Philippines. President Duterte on May 24, 2017 opted to skip his scheduled engagements and cut short his official visit to the Russian Federation immediately after declaring a state of Martial Law in Mindanao due to the terror crisis that gripped Marawi City.(Presidential Photo)

MOSCOW, Russia — Several agreements enhancing the relations between the Philippines and the Russian Federation were signed Wednesday night, May 24, here.

Philippine Ambassador to Russia Carlos D. Sorreta, announced the agreements signed by department secretaries in a press conference following the signing, which pushed through even without Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who had to rush home because of the outbreak of fighting in Marawi City between troops and the Maute group that raised the ISIS flag.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said agreements related to tourism, agriculture, defense cooperation, trade and industry, foreign affairs, transportation, and culture and the arts “covered everything that should have been covered” in the brief bilateral meeting of Duterte with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Joining Cayetano and Sorreta in the press conference were Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo, Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, and Secretary Fortunato Dela Peña of the Department of Science and Technology. Each of the secretaries were instructed by Duterte to stay behind and sign the agreements.

Teo signed the Joint Action Program for the period ‎2017-2019 to promote tourism and exchange of best practices between the two countries. The Philippines targets to attract part of the three million Russian tourists who travel to Southeast Asia every year.

Piñol signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Russian Federation’s Ministry of Agriculture to bring about food security in the Philippines through cooperation and through research in agriculture and fisheries, livestock breeding, processing, and transportation and storage of agriculture and fishery products.

Cayetano signed the defense cooperation agreement that expands exchanges in terms of training, seminars and best practices between the two countries, with the end to develop relations in the field of military education, including military medicine, military history, sports, and culture as well as experiences in consultation, observer participation in military training exercises, and military port calls.

Having plenary powers and plenipotentiary powers to sign any agreement as Foreign Affairs secretary, Cayetano also signed the Agreement on Cooperation on Transportation between the Department of Transportation and Russia’s Ministry of Transportation; and the Protocol on Cooperation between the National Commission for Culture and the Arts of the Philippines and Russia’s Ministry of Culture.

The first agreement is an endeavor to exchange technology and best practices in transportation, with the Russian Federation rendering support and technical assistance through exchange of experience and knowledge in transport area, as well as cooperation in the framework of research projects and educational visits.

The second agreement intends to promote participation in international film and art festivals held in each other’s countries, as well as exchange of music, circus, dance and theater groups or individual artist “to build closer ties in the area of culture and history.”

Lopez, who was scheduled to represent the Philippines in the business fora on Thursday, signed the Memorandum of Intent between the Department of Trade and Industry of the Philippines and the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia to foster mutually beneficial trade and investment cooperation between the two countries. He also signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Industry Development related to the products and technologies intended to strengthen the industries of both countries.

Dela Peña signed the Memorandum of Agreement between the Department of Science and Technology of the Philippines and the State Atomic Energy Corporation, otherwise known as ROSATOM on Cooperation on the Use of Nuclear Energy for Peaceful Purposes.

“The general purpose of this agreement is to develop cooperation in the area of peaceful use of atomic energy in accordance with domestic laws, rules and regulations and, of course, international agreements that govern the peaceful use of atomic energy,” Sorreta said.

Cayetano thanked the Russian Federation, particularly Putin for his understanding of the situation in the Philippines and the need of Duterte to return home and cut short his trip.

Putin and Duterte met and talked for about an hour and a half before the latter flew back to the Philippines.