Duterte, Putin to hold talks via phone — Palace

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte will hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin via telephone, Malacañang confirmed on Tuesday.

Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. made the confirmation after Duterte’s former aide and now Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong ” Go first announced the scheduled phone conversation between the President and Putin.

Roque, however, refused to divulge when the phone call will happen as Duterte’s schedule is “classified as secret.”

Since sinabi na rin naman ni Senator [Christopher] Bong Go, I can confirm na may usapin po sa telepono ang ating Presidente at ang Presidente ng Russia (Since Senator Bong Go already said it, I can confirm that the President will talk via telephone with the President of Russia),” Roque told reporters during a virtual press conference.

Yun lang po ang aking masasabi, I cannot even say kung kailan po (That’s all I can say, I cannot even say when it will happen),” he added.

In December last year, Duterte again invited Putin to visit the Philippines “as soon as circumstances allow” to forge “a more robust and deeper cooperation” between the two countries.

Duterte extended the invitation through new Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Marat Ignatyevich Pavlov who was in Malacañan Palace to present his credentials to the President.

“Next year marks the 45th anniversary of our diplomatic relations. I take this opportunity to reiterate my invitation to President Vladimir Putin to visit the Philippines as soon as our circumstances will allow,” the President had said in his speech.

“It will be an opportunity to celebrate and reaffirm the enduring friendship and cooperation between our countries,” he added.

The President had accepted Russia’s offer to supply coronavirus vaccines to the Philippines and he even offered to take the first shot to show his trust and gratitude to Russia.

Duterte, who has referred to Putin as his “idol,” made two official trips to Russia since he assumed the presidency in 2016.

He previously invited Putin to visit Manila but the Russian leader has yet to make the trip.

In October last year, then Russian envoy Igor Khovaev said Putin had accepted Duterte’s invitation.

If Putin pushes through with the visit, it will be his first visit to the Philippines.