MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte Wednesday praised outgoing Russian Ambassador Igor Khovaev's efforts for the Philippines' "deeper" bilateral relations with Russia, under which he said important agreements were signed.
"During the ambassador’s tenure and since the President’s first visit to Russia in May 2017, bilateral engagement has broadened and deepened," a statement from the President's office read.
Duterte lauded Khovaev's role in redefining Manila's relationship with Moscow in line with the administration's foreign independent policy.
"Key agreements were signed and consultative mechanisms established, particularly in the areas of defense and security, trade and economic cooperation, science and technology, and health," it added.
Duterte also pointed out the outgoing ambassador's role in assisting "confidence-building" activities between the two countries in terms of defense through joint naval visits and law enforcement personnel training.
"For his part, Ambassador Khovaev reiterated Russia’s commitment to build an enduring partnership with the Philippines over the long term," the statement added.
"He also identified promising areas of growth, including in trade and investment, defense and security and public health, particularly in the common fight against the COVID-19 pandemic."
The President also conferred to Khovaev the Order of Sikatuna, with the rank of Datu (Grand Cross with Gold Distinction).
Duterte had made two trips to Russia: The first was in May 2017, which was cut short due to a terror attack in southern Philippines that forced him to come home earlier than scheduled. His second visit, meanwhile, was in October last year.