Duterte to make second visit to Russia in October

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will deliver a speech at the Valdai Forum in the city of Sochi.
Updated 28 September 2019

Duterte to make second visit to Russia in October

  • The highlight of the trip will be Duterte’s bilateral meeting with Putin

MANILA: At the invitation from Russian President Vladimir Putin, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will return to Moscow in October, more than two years after his first visit was cut short when violence erupted in Marawi City in May 2017.

The highlight of the trip will be Duterte’s bilateral meeting with Putin, where they will discuss the state of Philippines-Russia relations and enhancing cooperation.

Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for European Affairs Ma. Amelita Aquino said the two leaders will also exchange views on regional and global developments, among other issues.

They will also witness the exchange of several bilateral agreements covering practical areas of cooperation.

This will be the fourth meeting of the two presidents. They first met in November 2016 on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Forum (APEC) Summit in Peru, and after the visit to Russia in May 2017, they met again in November o the sidelines of the APEC Summit in Da Nang, Vietnam. In the early days of his presidency, Duterte called Putin his “favorite hero.”

Meanwhile, President Duterte will also deliver a speech at the Valdai Forum in the Russian city of Sochi, where other world leaders were also invited to talk on the theme “The World Order Seen from the East.”

This is the first time that a Filipino leader has been invited to the annual forum organized by the Valdai Discussion Club, one of Russia’s prominent think tanks and discussion groups.

Given the theme of the forum, Duterte is expected to give his perspective of the world order as it is emerging and how this relates to Philippine foreign policy, according to Chief of Presidential Protocol and Presidential Assistant on Foreign Affairs Rober Borje.

“Of course, we can surmise that the president will include in his statement an explanation of his independent foreign policy,” he added.

During his visit, Duterte will also deliver a brief lecture at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, one of the most prestigious institutions in Russia in the area of diplomacy and international affairs.

He will also attend the Philippines-Russia Business Forum to promote the trade and investment opportunities between the two nations. It will also serve as a venue for networking between Russian and Filipino businessmen.

Earlier, Russian Deputy Minister for Industry and Trade Aleksey Gruzdev said that his country wants to explore new areas of trade and cooperation with the Philippines. He cited such areas as pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, civil aviation, infrastructure including airport development, railways and power.

Gruzdev, who is also co-chair of the Joint Russia-Philippines Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation, led a Russian delegation in a two-day visit to Manila this week.

“We want more complex, not just buy and sell, but profound and long standing joint ventures,” he said in a press conference at the residence of Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev on Wednesday.

Gruzdev added that trade between Philippines and Russia “is developing quite rapidly” and is now worth $1.2 billion, seeing a 100 percent growth in a year. But, as he pointed out, trade and economic relations between the two nations are not particularly diversified, hence their desire to explore new possibilities.

Anti-government protesters block roads in Pakistan as unrest mounts

Updated 14 November 2019

Anti-government protesters block roads in Pakistan as unrest mounts

  • Tens of thousands of demonstrators joined a sit-in in Islamabad on Oct. 31 and camped there for about two weeks
  • Firebrand cleric leading the protests called for nationwide demonstrations

ISLAMABAD: Anti-government protesters in Pakistan blocked major roads and highways across the country on Thursday in a bid to force Prime Minister Imran Khan to resign.
The demonstrators — led by the leader of opposition party Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), the firebrand cleric Maulana Fazlur Rehman — have taken to the streets as the start of their “Plan B” to topple the government and ensure a general election after failing to push Khan out through a fortnight-long sit-in in Islamabad, which ended on Wednesday.
That same day, Rehman told his party workers to spread their protests to other parts of the country.
“This protest will continue not for a day but for a month, if our leadership instructs,” said JUI-F Secretary-General, Maulana Nasir Mehmood, to a group of protesters who blocked the country’s main Karakoram Highway — an important trade route between Pakistan and China that also connects the country’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province with its northern areas.
The JUI-F protesters also blocked other key routes in KP and a major highway connecting the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan. The party’s Balochistan chapter also announced its intention to block the highway connecting Pakistan to neighboring Iran.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators joined the sit-in in Islamabad on Oct. 31 and camped there for about two weeks, demanding the prime minister’s resignation and fresh polls in the country following allegations of electoral fraud last year and the mismanagement of Pakistan’s economy. The government denies both charges.
Rehman is a veteran politician who was a member of the National Assembly for 20 years. He enjoys support in religious circles across the country. His party has yet to share a detailed plan regarding which roads will be closed when, or how long this new phase of protests will continue.
The JUI-F and other opposition parties have been trying to capitalize on the anger and frustration of the public against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf ruling party, which came to power last year promising 10 million new jobs for the youth, 5 million low-cost houses, and economic reforms to benefit the middle class.
Since then, Pakistan’s economy has nosedived, witnessing double-digit inflation and rampant unemployment. The government signed a $6-billion bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund to stave off a balance-of-payments crisis.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan has stabilized the deteriorating economy, and Maulana Fazlur Rehman ‘Plan B’ will fail like his ‘Plan A,’” Firdous Ashiq Awan, special assistant to the prime minister on information and broadcasting, said in a statement to the press.