“From Russia with love”

©REUTERS

UMALOHOKAN

FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE HISTORY OF THE Philippines, we have a Philippine President who visited Russia and succeeded in enhancing cooperation on many policy aspects, including economic exchange. President Rodrigo Duterte and his delegation hold a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his officials in Sochi, Russia, on October 3, 2019. The bilateral relations between their countries have achieved “remarkable progress” since he decided to pursue an independent foreign policy that seeks to forge stronger ties with non-traditional allies. In his opening remarks, Putin said that the Philippines “is a very important partner of Russia in Asia,” and noted improvements in bilateral ties since Duterte assumed the presidency. “We have reached lots of success in our trade and economic cooperation,” Putin said. “Last year our trading has grown two-fold. Russian export also grew fourfold. We have major reserves in place and Russian companies are ready to increase the supplies of energy carriers, aircraft, transport, special equipment.” He said Russia is eyeing increased “industrial cooperation” and also cooperation on “the exploration of space and the use of digital technologies.” Putin also said that since Duterte’s visit to Russia, the Philippine leader “managed to lower the level of terrorist threat in the Philippines and to strengthen the potential of security bodies.” We are prepared to develop our partnership when it comes to countering terrorism and share our experience and all the developments. President Duterte is being called his “idol” and “favorite leader.” The Labor agreement is among the priorities of the Philippine government as the number of overseas Filipino workers (OFW’s) – many of whom are employed as household service workers – have increased throughout the last years, despite the limited number of available visas. There were some 10,000 Filipinos in the northern country (Russia); about 90 to 95% were women who worked as nannies and domestic workers. The sad thing is very few, very, very few (have this visa) because there are only about a hundred legal visas available for nannies and household service workers, so the rest do not have this visa to work in Russia, but they are still working in Russia and are doing very well. As it stands, Philippine officials work with Russian authorities to help ensure Filipino workers were not detained and were turned over to Philippine officials to be safely repatriated when needed. Hopefully, with the Duterte’s visit and signing several agreements, there will be more trade and flow of goods and services between Russia and the Philippines. Thank you Mr. President, for promoting trade and exchange between Russia and the Philippines. More Russians are coming to the Philippines and more Filipinos are going to Russia. I will not be surprised if there will be a Miss Universe who is half Russian and Filipino.