Duterte 'determined' to boost ties with Russia

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 22) — In terms of its relationship with Russia, the Philippines has a lot of catching up to do — and President Rodrigo Duterte says he plans to make up for decades of "missed opportunities" between the two countries.

Speaking in Davao City on Monday afternoon just minutes before flying off to Moscow, Duterte said his "landmark visit" to meet with President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was aimed at rectifying a "strategic oversight" on the part of the Philippines for "overdependence on traditional partners" like the United States and other western countries — which "has limited our room to maneuver in a very dynamic international arena."

He said he was "determined to correct" this situation.

"Russia must cease to be at the margins of Philippine diplomacy... My administration will give (PH-Russia) relations the importance commensurate to its full potential. We will push for pragmatic engagement in the politico-security sphere, increased economic cooperation, and enhanced cultural and people-to-people exchanges."

Related: Duterte: 'The Russians are with me, so I can't be afraid'

He stressed the tepid 40-year-old relations with Russia deserved a "much-needed boost."

"My visit underscores the independence of the Philippines' foreign policy and the firm resolve to broaden the horizons of friendship and cooperation with other nations."

The 72-year old president also said he would want the Russians to know that the Philippines meant "serious business."

"Certainly, I will take the opportunity to engage the business leaders in Russia. With the Philippines' emphasis on sustaining our economic growth, we seek responsible economic partners who will become our new allies in development."

Duterte would also meet with the Filipino community in Moscow to thank them for contributing to nation building.

"I will also tell them that your government continues to work very hard to give you the country and future you all deserve." the President said.

Proudly Filipino-made

On a lighter note, Duterte made his departure remarks while sporting a Filipino-made watch under the brand, Ibarra.

He said it was just lent to him and the owner told him that if would find the watch to his liking, the President could pay for it later on — to avoid graft and corruption.

"It's very elegant. Of course it's not solid gold. Nothing of the sort. It's gold plated but very elegant."

Duterte also showed off his Marikina-made pair of shoes. He said he would want that one day soon all military generals would be wearing Marikina-made boots.

"If we do not promote our products, who will?" he pointed out.

The President was unable to grant a media interview as he was already running late for his long flight.

CNN Philippines Anjo Alimario contributed to this report.