Duterte’s ‘secret’ sked includes phone call with Russia’s Putin

Published April 13, 2021, 2:16 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The country’s relations with Russia are expected to be revitalized when President Duterte will soon reconnect with his “idol”,  Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque confirmed that the two leaders will have a telephone conversation but declined to divulge other details.

The Palace official was only compelled to spill the beans about the prospective Duterte-Putin phone call after the President’s former aide and now Senator Christopher Go mentioned the schedule.

“Paunawa po kasi ang schedule talaga ni Presidente ay classified as secret pero since sinabi na rin ni Senator Bong Go, may usapan po sa telepono ang ating Presidente at ang President ng Russia (I ask for your understanding because the President’s schedule is classified as secret. But since Senator Bong Go mentioned it, the President will have a telephone conversation with the President of Russia),” Roque said during  televised press briefing Tuesday, April 13.

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

The President’s planned talk with Putin comes amid the country’s efforts to secure more coronavirus vaccine supplies.

The government is expected to finalize its supply deal with Russia’s Gamaleya National Center for 20 million doses of vaccines. The Russian vaccine maker earlier secured an emergency use authorization for its Sputnik V vaccines in the country.

Based on the vaccine rollout prepared by vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., an initial 500,000 doses of Gamaleya vaccines may arrive this month, followed by two million doses next month. 

An additional 4 million Gamaleya doses are expected to be delivered in June while another 4 million shots will arrive in July.

Back in December, the President invited Putin to visit the Philippines as soon as circumstances would allow in an effort to forge “a more robust and deeper cooperation” between the two countries.

Duterte said the Philippines considers Russia as “a good friend and partner,” saying Putin’s visit would be opportunity to celebrate and reaffirm the enduring friendship and cooperation between the two countries.

The two countries mark this year the 45th anniversary of their diplomatic relations with each other.

Duterte earlier accepted Russia’s offer to supply COVID-19 vaccines to the Philippines and even offered to take the first shot to show his trust and gratitude to Russia.

Duterte, who has referred to Putin as his “idol,” already 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.