Russia ready to help in Duterte's drug war
MOSCOW, Russia – The Philippines can count on Russia's highly experienced intelligence service and security agencies to help in its fight against illegal drugs.
This was one of the assurances made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday, May 25, in Moscow.
The two were holding a bilateral meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mansion a day after Philippine and Russian officials sealed 10 deals on cooperation in various fields, including defense, nuclear power development, trade, transportation, agriculture, and cultural exchange.
"I would like to reiterate our commitment to working together in the security sphere in fighting terrorism or fighting drug trafficking and other matters," Lavrov told Cayetano through a translator.
Cayetano thanked Lavrov for Russia's "offer to share their expertise, experience, and vast knowledge in the field of security."
This is the first time the offer of Russian assistance, specifically in President Rodrigo Duterte's controversial drug war, was mentioned by a Russian official.
Previously, there was mention of cooperation in security and law enforcement between the two countries.
Among the deals signed was the Agreement on Exchange of Intelligence Information. Signed by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr and his Russian counterpart on Tuesday, May 23, the deal involves the sharing of information by Philippine and Russian intelligence and law enforcement agencies to combat security threats and catch criminals.
Russia's intelligence agencies are world-renowned. It is the Foreign Intelligence Service, Russia's external intelligence service, that is the agency authorized to enter into intelligence-sharing arrangements with foreign intelligence agencies.
Cayetano pointed to the ongoing clashes between the Maute terror group and government forces as proof of the need for security cooperation between the two countries.
"Current developments in Mindanao, where ISIS involvement is suspected, support our common desire to strenghthen security and intelligence cooperation and make this a safer world for all people," said the Philippines' top diplomat.
During the first part of their bilateral meeting, Cayetano thanked Lavrov for the Russian government's understanding of the situation in Marawi City and why Duterte had to cut his visit short.
Cayetano, who was only recently appointed to his post at the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, also said it was an "honor" for him that his first overseas trip as Foreign Secretary was to Russia.
Cayetano expressed hope that Duterte might be able to return to Russia someday to make up for the shortened visit. This idea was welcomed by Lavrov.
"I can assure you that we would be happy to see him anytime," said the Russian minister. – Rappler.com