Philippines-Russia relations

Duterte, Putin tackle COVID-19 vaccines, defense in phone call

Pia Ranada
Duterte, Putin tackle COVID-19 vaccines, defense in phone call

CONVERSATION WITH 'IDOL.' President Duterte holds a 'telesummit' with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Photo from Office of Senator Bong Go

President Duterte again invites his 'idol' to visit the Philippines 'as soon as circumstances allow'
Duterte, Putin tackle COVID-19 vaccines, defense in phone call

The COVID-19 pandemic and defense cooperation were two major topics in the phone call between Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, April 13.

The call, dubbed by Malacañang as a “telesummit,” lasted for 30 minutes and took place on Tuesday evening. Photos of the occasion showed Duterte taking the call from the Malacañang Golf Clubhouse.

A photo of the Russian leader was flashed on the screen in front of Duterte as Putin’s voice could be heard. English subtitles flashed on the screen under Putin’s photo.

In the room were Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr and Senator Bong Go, Duterte’s longtime aide.

Duterte thanked Putin, who he has called his “idol” many times in the past, for helping the Philippines weather the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, they spoke of Russia’s vaccine, Sputnik V, of which the Philippines has ordered 20 million doses.

The two leaders, according to the Palace, noted the importance of deploying Sputnik V doses to as many countries as possible and “ramping up global production and supplies.”

Defense, economic ties

The conversation turned towards defense and security cooperation between the Philippines and Russia. The two presidents believed there to be “steady progress” in cooperation, bolstered by exchanges between their military and intelligence agencies.

Putin mentioned, in particular, the need for more economic cooperation.

“President Putin highlighted the positive trajectory of Russia-Philippines relations and emphasized the many opportunities for greater cooperation in the fields of trade and investments, agriculture, and energy development even as both countries work on fruther enhancing political-security cooperation,” said Malacañang.

Duterte, meanwhile, repeated an invitation for Putin to visit the Philippines “as soon as circumstances allow.” The invitation was “welcomed” by the Russian leader. –

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at