President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed optimism that Russian President Vladimir Putin will do the right thing following the recent US-led military airstrikes in Syria.
In a press briefing in Boracay Island, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed that Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev paid a courtesy call on Duterte at Malacañang Palace on Monday.
During the meeting, Roque said the Russian envoy handed a personal letter of Putin to Duterte.
“During both officials’ meeting, the Philippines and Russia reaffirmed their mutual support for each other,” Roque said.
Duterte met Putin in May last year in Moscow in a trip that was cut short due to the eruption of the Marawi City siege.
Roque said Duterte has articulated his optimism that “Putin will do the right thing in the present situation in Syria.”
Putin has reportedly condemned the military strikes launched by the joint forces of United States, United Kingdom and France on Syria’s alleged chemical weapon facilities.
The Russian leader called it “an act of aggression” and would leave a “destructive effect on the entire system of international relations.”
Putin had denied evidence of a chemical weapons attack, which the US-led forces used as basis to launch military strikes.
Roque said Duterte has likewise expressed hope that the situation in Syria “will not escalate any further and they will be returned to peace” so as not to affect the more than 1,000 Filipinos living in Syria.
Last Monday, Roque said the government is giving priority on the safety of Filipinos in Syria.
He said as member of the United Nations, the Philippines is bound by the UN Charter’s Chapter 7, noting that use of force must be a way of self-defense or when authorized by the UN Security Council.
Roque said Duterte and Khovaev had also discussed the war on drugs by the Duterte administration and the Philippines’ decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC). PNA