Prior to any defense cooperation with Russia, the Philippines needs to put in place a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which will provide the framework agreement between Filipino and Russian troops. This was disclosed by Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana Monday.
He said the MOU with Russia started in 2014 during the term of then President Benigno Aquino III but it was still incomplete when he stepped down in 2016.
“So we are going to finish this (MOU) and it will be one of the documents that will be signed by President Rodrigo Duterte during his visit to Russia sometime this April or May,” Lorenzana said in Filipino.
Possible contents of the MOU are the exchange of military personnel, visits, participation and observation exercises.
“The Russians said they would like to have exercises with us especially (in) maritime but the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) will still look into that and determine whether it is acceptable or not,” the DND chief said.
Once it is signed by April or May, Russia can then send students to Philippine military schools and vice versa.
The MOU will also give leeway to Philippine troops to observe Russian exercises to determine whether the country’s military will benefit from these maneuvers.
Once it is proven that the Philippines will get a boost in these Russian drills, Lorenzana said Filipino troops can be deployed for training in those exercises
The DND chief said he is not expecting the MOU to affect Philippine-US military ties as the latter is not an alliance but merely military-to-military cooperation.
“This is not like the US Mutual Defense Treaty where it stipulates that the Americans will help defend us once we are attacked,” Lorenzana added.
As this develops, the DND chief said Russian officers will start arriving this month to meet with Filipino officers to determine what kind of equipment or weapons the Philippines need.
He added that these Russian officers will be coming with an equipment list and the Filipino military officers can see first hand what they (Russians) are offering.