Duterte thanks Putin for Russia's pandemic assistance to PH

It was Russian President Vladimir Putin's turn Thursday, Oct. 28 to hear words of appreciation from President Duterte in connection with the Russian Federation's coronavirus disease (COVID-19)-related assistance to the Philippines.

President Rodrigo Duterte (left) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (Photos from Malacañang/ MANILA BULLETIN)

A statement from Malacañang Thursday evening said Duterte thanked Russia during the 4th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Russia Summitt earlier that day for its donation of Sputnik V vaccines to the Philippines.

He also welcomed the resumption of training courses for epidemiologists in Vladivostok to help boost ASEAN countries’ capacity to address and prevent future outbreaks.

Russia was among the first countries in the world to develop a vaccine against dreaded COVID-19, which is a respiratory ailment.

Speaking of pandemic assistance, Duterte had the opportunity to express his appreciation to United States (US) President Joe Biden for America's vaccine donations earlier in the ongoing 38th and 39th ASEAN Summits and Related Summits.

The Palace statement said that Duterte and his ASEAN counterparts joined Putin in a "productive exchange of views" during the bloc's dialgoue with Russia, which was held via video conference.

The Philippine leader lauded 30 years of dialogue relationship between ASEAN and Russia, which was elevated to a strategic partnership in 2018.

“I am very much encouraged by our growing cooperation across the three pillars of ASEAN,” Duterte was quoted as saying.

Duterte conveyed the Philippines’ full support for the ASEAN-Russia Plan of Action 2021-2025 aimed at strengthening cooperation in disaster management, cybersecurity, research and development, and innovation.

He said, “We must ensure its effective implementation to bolster post-pandemic recovery and enhance our resilience against pandemics.”

The Filipino president likewise welcomed Russia’s renewed commitment to work with ASEAN in countering the illegal drug problem, promoting peace and prosperity for the peoples of the Asia-Pacific, Indian Ocean region and Greater Eurasia, and its efforts to deepen defense engagement through the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus).

The Philippines supports Russia’s co-chairmanship of the ADMM-Plus Experts’ Working Group on Counter-Terrorism for the cycle 2021-2024. “All these important initiatives add greater value to our Strategic Partnership,” Duterte stressed.