The Philippines’ Department of National Defense (DND) on Monday, January 9, said that the country is already wrapping up the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for its planned military defense cooperation with Russia.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that the memorandum was first drafted in 2014 during the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III, but was not completed.
“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 (after fixing the nitty-gritty),” Lorenzana said.
He said that the MOU is aimed to be signed during President Rodrigo Duterte’s upcoming visit in Russia in April or May this year.
According to him, the proposed agreement will pave way to the exchange of military personnels between the two countries and participation in war 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 (we’ll include what is acceptable because it will still pass through the Department of Foreign Affairs),” Lorenzana added.
Lorenzana also took note that the MOU with Russia will be different from the Philippines’ Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States.
“Hindi naman ‘yung katulad sa US na treaty, Mutual Defense Treaty na pagka-aatakihin tayo tulungan tayo. Wala tayong ganun sa Russia (It’s not the same with our Mutual Defense Treaty with the U.S. which is a treaty, Mutual Defence Treaty, which mandates them to help us if we’re attacked),” Lorenzana explained.
He also clarified that the Philippines will have a “cooperation,” not an “alliance,” with Russia and assured that the treaty will not affect the Philippines’ alliance with the U.S.
“No. Wala tayong alliance dito. Military to military cooperation ito (We don’t have an alliance. This is a military to military cooperation),” Lorenzana stressed.
Last week, Russian Ambassador Igor Khovaev said that Moscow is interested in forming a defense cooperation with Manila. He also said that his country is open to supplying the Philippines with firearms.
According to Lorenzana, Russian officials were expected visit the country this month to discuss possible weapon deals.
“We need new partners in Asia-Pacific region, including the Philippines. It’s time for the Philippines to discover Russia and time for Russians to discover the Philippines,” Khovaev said.
The Russian ambassador, however, clarified that Moscow is not seeking a military alliance with Manila.