Navy chief to sign naval agreement in Russia

Published March 21, 2019, 8:04 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Francis Wakefield

Philippine Navy (PN) Chief Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad, on Thursday (March 21, 2019), said that he is scheduled to fly to Russia this July to sign a document to boost ties between the PN and the Russian Navy.

Robert Empedrad (photo courtesy of Facebook) MANILA BULLETIN
Robert Empedrad (photo courtesy of Facebook) MANILA BULLETIN

In an interview, Empedrad said following his visit to Russia last year, they came up with an agreement for deepening cooperation between the two navies.

“So prine-prepare ‘yun [So we are preparing that] and we finalized the document and we are going to sign that during my next visit to Russia kasi pupunta ako ng Russia ng July [because I will go to Russia in July],” Empedrad said.

“There I will sign a document, an agreement for deepening cooperation between the two sides, between the two navies. Ngayon ‘yung document na ‘yun [Now that document will] strengthen the cooperation or enhance the cooperation between the Philippine Navy and the Russian Navy,” he added.

In fact, Empedrad said, both navies will have joint working or staff to staff talk in order to start more engagements between the two navies like more port visits, exchanges in training in their country and vice versa.

Empedrad said the matter was discussed following the visit of Russian Navy Commander in Chief, Adm. Vladimir I. Korolyov to the PN headquarters at the Naval Station Jose Andrada, Roxas Blvd. Manila on Wednesday, March 20.

“So these are all, ito yung mga pinag-usapan namin nung
[these are the things we talked about with the ] Chief of Russian Navy,” Empedrad said.

Empedrad, at the same time, said that the PN has been invited by the Russian Navy to participate in their Fleet Review in connection with their anniversary celebration.

However, the PN chief maintained that their participation in the activity is still subject for approval of higher headquarters.

He added that the visit to Russia is being finalized and has been forwarded for approval to the Department of National Defense (DND).

“Oo, na-finalize na namin iyun, ifo-forward namin sa [We are finalizing it, we will forward it to the] Defense Department ‘yun. Once na i-approve ni, ng [it is approved by the] Defense Department then we will proceed to Russia in July to sign the agreement. So iyun iyung magpapa-strengthen ng [So that will strengthen the] relationship between the Russian Navy and the Philippine Navy,” Empedrad said.

Empedrad said their Fleet Review participation may take place in Vladivostok, Russia as the one that will take place in St. Petersburg is too far for their ships.

“Kung pupunta tayo sa St. Petersburg masyadong malayo [If we will to St. Petersburg it’s too far] it will require 40 days just to get there, and 40 days going back. Wala tayong barko na pwedeng [We don’t have a ship that can] kasi kulang tayo ng barko ngayon [because we lacked the ships]. Probably when our new frigate arrives pwede nating ipadala yung barko dun [we can send our ships there there] for the review,” Empedrad said.

“But in the meantime pwede tayong magpadala sa Vladivostok because meron din fleet review doon. So doon magjo-join iyung barko natin [we can send a ship to Vladivostok because there is also a fleet review there] so that is where our ship will be sent and it will be televised by the Russian Navy,” he said.

On Wednesday, a battalion of Sailors and Marines accorded a fitting arrival honor for Adm. Korolyov, as he visited the PN headquarters.

The visiting admiral who was welcomed by Empedrad was then conferred the Honorary Flag Rank Command Badge and Plaque at the Hall of Flags followed by the PN organizational briefing.

Admiral Korolyov and members of his staff arrived in the country Monday, March 18, as official guests of the Philippine Navy. His visit officially started with a wreath laying at Rizal Monument in Luneta, cultural tour at Intramuros, Manila and visit to PN vessel BRP Tarlac (LD601).

The Russian Navy Chief also paid a courtesy call to Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Benjamin Madrigal Jr., and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. He also toured the Corregidor Island as part of his four-day visit.

Empedrad said Admiral Korolyov was very happy especially after seeing for the first time a cultural dance by Filipino performers whom he said is world class.

Captain Jonathan V. Zata, the Director of the Naval Public Affairs Office, said the visit epitomizes the deepening friendship between the Philippine and Russian Navies established in the recent years.

“It further trumpets the PN’s commitment in promoting naval diplomacy and camaraderie and fostering goodwill with other navies,” he said.