WATCH: Duterte tours Russian warship

Pia Ranada

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WATCH: Duterte tours Russian warship
Aboard Russian vessel Admiral Tributs, Duterte tells Russian officials, 'I hope you can come back here more often'

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte had only good things to say about Russia as he toured their anti-submarine ship Admiral Tributs on Friday, January 6.

Mabuhay kayo (May you live)…from the heart. I hope you can come back here more often,” said Duterte as he signed the ship’s guestbook.

Duterte’s visit happened a day before the end of the “goodwill” visit of the 162-meter ship Admiral Tributs and Sea Tanker Boris Butoma.

During the tour, he was accompanied by Russian Ambassador Igor Khovaev and Russian Navy officials.

Also with him were Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief Lieutenant General Eduardo Año, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr, Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr, and Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, who Duterte says will one day replace Yasay as foreign affairs chief.

At one point, the President, some Cabinet members, and Russian officials did his signature clenched fist gesture, which he cheerfully described as “a sign of a fighting spirit.”

During the tour, Duterte was shown guns, other weapons, and the Ka-27 helicopter aboard the ship, capable of taking down an enemy submarine.

Strict security was observed during the President’s tour with only his close-in photographers and videographers allowed with him onboard. Camera men of private media were only allowed in an area near the ship.

Russia has promised to help provide the Philippines with military assets and to help in its fight against terrorism and piracy.

The visit of the two Russian ships comes after Duterte declared reinvigorated ties with Russia and admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin who he was able to meet during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit last November.

The Philippine President, after declaring a “split” from the United States, a traditional military ally, said he prefers closer ties with Russia and China. (READ: Russia warns ‘traditional’ partners: Don’t interfere

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is Rappler’s Community Lead, in charge of linking our journalism with communities for impact.