Lorenzana: PN ship’s port visit to Russia in reciprocation of past visits

Published August 10, 2018, 1:42 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Francis Wakefield

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the upcoming port visit of a Philippine Navy ship to Vladivostok, Russia, is meant to reciprocate the past visits of Russian warships to the country.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (photo courtesy of the Office of the Secretary of National Defense)
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (photo courtesy of the Office of the Secretary of National Defense)

In a press briefing at the Department of National Defense (DND) headquarters at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City on Thursday afternoon, Lorenzana also stressed that the port visit symbolizes the warm relation between the Philippines and Russia.

“Yah, yes, ano lang naman tayo eh (On our part), we are just returning, ‘yung parang gantihan, iyung ano ba, (its) reciprocity. Dalawang beses nang nagpunta rito sila, hindi pa tayo nagpupunta dun, so pinakamalapit nilang port dito is Vladivostok (They have here before, we have not been there, and their nearest port here is Vladivostok),” Lorenzana said.

“Vladivostok, diyan lang sa taas (Its located north). That’s about four hours away by plane. It’s near the Korean Peninsula,” he added.

It was recalled that three warships from Russia made a port visit in Manila in June 2018. Several Russian ships also visited the country in the past.

Lorenzana, in the same press briefing, said that as far as he is concerned the country is not eyeing any deals with Russia as of the moment.

‘Wala pa, wala pa (None yet, none yet). We do not know what will happen next, kasi kwan lang muna ito, (this is only) friendly visits kasi ilang beses na sila nagpunta rito, nagperform pa nga yung kanilang (they have visited a number of times here and their special forces even performed here),” Lorenzana ssid.

RP eyeing two submarines from Russia; S. Korea also being eyed

Meanwhile, Lorenzana said that no less than President Rodrigo Duterte wants to buy two submarines from Russia.

He said they are also looking at South Korea as potential source of submarine.

The defense chief said Russia is willing to sell their Kilo class (type) submarine.

The Kilo class is the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) reporting name for a naval diesel-electric attack submarine that is made in Russia. The original version of the vessels was designated Project 877 Paltus in the Soviet Union.

Lorenzana said they are hopeful that they can finalize the contract to buy the submarines within a year.

“Siguro not within this year, siguro within the next 12 months baka pwedeng mafinalize yan. Kasi pagka napirmahan ‘yan (“Maybe within the year, maybe within the next 12 months it could be finalized). It will take them four years to make it, so maideliver ‘yan tapos na ‘yung term ni presidente (so it can be delivered after the term of the president),” Lorenzana said.

Lorenzana told reporters that if there is no budget, Russia is willing to lend the Philippines money through a soft loan in order to acquire the submarines.

The Chief of the Russian Navy earlier assured that his government will support the upgrade program of the Philippine Navy (PN) in terms of training, maintenance and sustainment of future acquisition particularly its submarine acquisition project.

Russian Navy Chief Admiral Vladimir Ivanovich Korolev made the assurance following the visit of Philippine Navy Chief Vice Admiral Robert A. Empedrad to St. Petersburg, Russia as he represented the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for the Russian Navy Day celebration on July 29, 2018.

During their meeting, Korolev also informed Empedrad about the conduct of joint HADR (Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief) training and regular visits of ships.

The Philippine Navy said it was also during this historic meeting that a draft MOU for deepening security cooperation between the two navies was also discussed. It was during this meeting that the chief of Russian Navy expressed his appreciation for the upcoming visit of a Philippine Navy ship to Vladivostok, Russia.

The PN delegation was also given the opportunity to visit Admiralty Shipyard, the navy’s premier naval shipyard where Russian submarines are built.

The main naval parade at St. Petersburg is a commemoration of over three centuries of Russia’s rich history. This is the day when the Russian federation honors members of the Russian Navy and showcases its strength and capabilities. It is celebrated annually, on the last Sunday of July.

To mark this year’s Navy Day parade, the Russian President and Commander-in-Chief, Vladimir Putin attended the activity.

The commander of the China’s People’s Liberation Army-Navy, Vice Admiral Shen Jinlong was also among the Navy chiefs who attended and was met by Empedrad during the event.

The 14 chiefs and representatives of the invited navies were also tendered with a formal dinner by the chief of Russian Navy as the final event for the visiting delegations.

All heads of delegations agreed that the only way to achieve peace at sea is through cooperation among navies of the world.

Empedrad was accompanied by the commander of the Philippine Fleet, Rear Admiral Danilo R. Rodelas and two other PN officers and Philippine defense attaché to Russia, Army Col. Dennis Pastor PA.

The official visit underscores the navy’s diplomacy efforts for increased interaction among other navies.

“These engagements are building blocks for closer cooperation in areas of mutual concern such as combating terrorism, violent extremism and transnational crimes, the conduct of humanitarian assistance and disaster response,” the Philippine Navy said.