May 23, 2017 – Press Briefing by Philippine Ambassador to Russia Carlo Sorreta
|Press Briefing by Philippine Ambassador to Russia Carlo Sorreta|
|Sloboda Room, Golden Ring Hotel, Moscow, Russia|
|23 May 2017|
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: Hello good morning everyone. Good morning, Rocky. Welcome to Moscow.
Leila Salaverria (Philippine Daily Inquirer): Sir, you mentioned the Filipinos have this impression about Russia. How about Russia? How do they view the Philippines in general and what do they think of President Duterte?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: Starting of how they think of President Duterte, they greatly admire… I can’t change the channel on TV without seeing coverage of the Philippines and our President.
And it’s not the kind of coverage you would see in New York or in Europe, Western Europe. It’s a coverage that shows great admiration, great desire to develop relations.
Ms. Salaverria: Sir, where is this coming from? What do they admire about him?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: I think Russians in general admire strong leadership. They admire predictability. They admire consistency. So they see all these with our President.
And one thing they truly admire is his strong and committed desire to build service to the people.
Ms. Salaverria: How about the Philippines? What’s their impression with our country?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: Philippines? I’ve had many — recently many Filipinos come here and they’ve been surprised of how different Russia is. There’s been a lot of stereotypes in the Philippines and I don’t really blame it, I mean, growing up watching James Bond movies. The villains were either an evil Russian scientist or some beautiful nubile Russian assassin.
Then growing up some more watching movies… On the plane over, when I came here on my first —on my assignment two years ago, I happened to watch Avengers. It’s this one of the top grossing movies of all time and the opening scene is a Russian rogue general who’s black marketeering arms torturing the heroine, black widow, who herself turns out to be a former deep penetration agent of Russia.
So, there’s heavy influence in culture but the reality is we have not had as deeper exchange with Russia even though we’ve had good relations, so we’re 40 years. And that’s going to change.
Pia Ranada (Rappler): Hi, sir.
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: Yes, Rappler.
Ms. Ranada: My name is Pia from Rappler.
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: I’m taking out your mic. No, I’m just kidding. [laughter]
Ms. Ranada: Sir, we also know that the President has given remarks about the US and we also know about how Russian stands with the US. What do Russian think naman po about what the President has said so far about the United States, Europe? Sir, for example, about how they approach him with his human rights record?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: I think this question is best answered if you speak to a Russian policymaker.
But from my own impression and I stand to be corrected by them, the Russians follow a policy of non-interference. So they just want to be friends with us. They don’t want to make any… They don’t want to make enemies for us or tell us who not to be friends with unlike other countries.
So they just want a good relationship, a very respectful one. Right now, they want to start heavily on the economic and then eventually on security but not on the strategic security just defense cooperation.
So that’s the way they perceive how… I mean, that’s how they reacted… That’s how are the Russians reacting to the President’s statements to Russia and EU.
They basically respect a country’s decision in what to do. For example, on human rights which is a big issue for Western countries, we have had our ambassadors there summoned and given the views of the host country.
Let me tell you I’ve never been summoned on that. And somebody was kidding if I’m summoned about it, they might pat me on the back. I’m just kidding. [laughs]
See they don’t want to interfere. Just as they don’t like and they hate it when other countries interfere in Russia’s affair. They think sovereign states are capable of making decisions for themselves and will benefit or suffer by those decisions but never should an external state interfere in the sovereign affairs of the Philippines or of Russia. Sorry if I talk too long.
Joseph Morong (GMA): Sir, ‘yung pagpunta ni Presidente dito do you think this is symbolic shift of our relationship with other countries and how do think is this going to be permanent?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: I think, sa tingin ko ano eh it’s been a long time coming because there is a lot — there are a lot of benefits in having a good relationship with a large country and a powerful country like Russia.
Our neighbors in ASEAN all have wonderful relations with Russia. Also, they also have good relations with other countries.
I think that’s the kind of independent foreign policy we’re trying to achieve — less dependence on a single — less dependence on our needs or our policies on a single nation. And we can spread out our ability to pursue our needs not just focus on, you know… So, we actually get a better balance on more independence foreign policy.
And there are many opportunities here that will be discovered. We have 300 businessmen. I’ve been in the department about two decades and it’s one of the largest groups of business people I’ve seen. Okay, I’m sorry. Does that mean I have to stop or…?
Mr. Morong: Sir, for ordinary Filipinos, what are the kinds of opportunities that we have here in Russia?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: Russia is a major power in terms of energy. Deep cooperation with Russia on energy not just on fossil fuels but on higher technology, renewable sources or more modern energy can bring energy prices down quite a lot.
They are also looking towards investing in the country which I will not preempt the signings of — but this will definitely create jobs.
There are products made in Russia. Russia is a major industrial country. They do produce quite a lot of things. And they are also a major agricultural country for temperate climate agricultural products.
Opening our market to products from Russia will benefit our consumer. For example, they do produce… They are power in pharmaceuticals. It could bring healthcare cost down for the common Filipino.
They do produce some of the food items that we import already — chicken and pork. I think if they are allowed to come in that will bring the price of Chicken Joy down, I hope. But…
So it’s… We are hoping for that. I’m not plugging for… I like Kentucky also. [laughs] And McDonald’s and all the other chicken. But we import a heck a lot of chicken, I tell you, a lot.
Edith Regalado (The Philippine Star): Good morning po. You are talking about imports from Russia to the Philippines but can we talk of exports from the Philippines to Russia to at least balance the trade?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: One of our targets is agricultural products like Secretary Piñol and Secretary Lopez have said. For example, Russia is a huge market for bananas. They love bananas. They import one billion dollars worth of bananas a year, one billion, can you imagine that?
Ms. Regalado: That is from where? I mean, from South American countries?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: It’s largely from tiny little Ecuador captures 95 percent of the banana market and that’s because of massive…
They have invested in promotion in bringing in their products and this is really a matter of…
We need to invest in promoting our products. They won’t just buy it. Well, we really need to promote.
For example, Ecuador, even they already have 95 percent of a billion dollar market, every few months they have a banana festival. They continue to promote. Yes, they have ladies in—
Ms. Regalado: In bananas all over their heads and the bodies covered with bananas?
Reporter: Every month?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: Well, I’m not sure of the whole bodies covered but they… Not every month but about three times a year, they promote very heavily and not just in Moscow but in other parts of…
Ms. Regalado: But could you just give us an idea what Philippine products existing now that they export from us?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: They import from us right now…
Ms. Regalado: Ah no, they import from us?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: Yes, they import from us now quite a number of processed fruit like the dried mangoes. We… If you will go to the supermarkets or the Duty Free or if you ride on their trains, we already have dried mangoes being sold. We also export some other agricultural products but in very, very small number.
Ms. Regalado: Such as?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: Desiccated coconut, coconut oil. But for example, coconut water is something they also like. They import a lot from Thailand and Vietnam.
So I think there’s a market there but it’s really a matter of awareness. So… When I started promoting dried mangoes, for example, one of the persons, one of the — I met a supermarket CEO. So what I do is I bring a little basket of Philippine products and knock on the doors of supermarket CEOs. Naglalako ako ng Philippine products. Literally.
Ms. Regalado: Sir, you mean to say you also dance?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: Well, if I had banana suit, I’d probably[laughs]. No I’m sorry, I have a body not made for dancing. But…[laughter]
So when I made the CEO… Well, he wasn’t CEO, he’s the purchasing manager. He tasted the… She tasted the dried mangoes and she couldn’t believe that it was made in the Philippines. She thought it was made in Vietnam or Thailand and I said, “No, it’s Philippines.”
The other thing we recently imported by the way is coco sugar. Suchero. They like it very much. It’s one of the success stories I was — it was part of my introducing our products to Russian buyers and they liked it. Russia is a country that likes sweet stuff.
Sugar, I can’t because it can’t compete… They have beet sugar here and they have a lot of this beet, very, very cheap. So these are the things we’re trying to bring in. Also fish products —
Ms. Regalado: Fish products from us?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: Fish products from us, yes. Particularly canned tuna, fresh and frozen tuna. There’s… We can hang — ride on to some promotion. The Thai promote canned tuna a lot here so there’s a great awareness of canned tuna.
Ms. Regalado: So you mean to say the Russian market is basically depend — it really depends on promotion?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: Like any market, if they don’t know the —
Ms. Regalado: Yeah, but this one is really heavy on promotion?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: Yes and we need to package our products and stick on Russian language stickers on it. Pwede naman eh.
Ms. Regalado: But couldn’t the Philippine companies go on a joint venture with Russian companies to come up with those products?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: They can, the Russian can invest in production in the Philippines so that the jobs will be created there, yeah.
Ms. Regalado: So that’s one area. Sir, how many years na po kayo dito?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: Just two years.
Ms. Regalado: Two years okay. Tanong… Another tanong po. Are there Russian NGOs here that are actively operating in the Philippines now?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: Russian NGOs?
Ms. Regalado: Or do you know of any NGOs like human rights or what?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: I think I’m afraid to say… The concept of NGOs is still evolving in Russia. I’d rather not comment too much on that.
Rose Novenario (Hataw): Hi, sir, good morning. Iyong speaking of NGO po. Kasi recently po parang binan (ban) ni President Vladimir Putin ‘yung Soros-funded NGOs. So—
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: That’s not a Russian NGO. It’s a foreign…
Ms. Novenario: Open Society Foundation. Recently po kasi may mga speeches si President Duterte na may pagbatikos po kay Mr. Soros at tila siya rin po ‘yung may pakana raw nung mga black propaganda against him through EJKs. Tingin niyo po ito ‘yung common denominator kaya ng good relationship ni President Duterte and President Putin?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: I think it’s, before you… I know reporters are very good at connecting the dots. Before you do that, I think it’s just coincidence that Mr. Putin did what he did and then our President said what he said.
Now, in terms of having shared values that make their connections stronger, I think that both leaders believe that non-gov — that some entities that become somehow more powerful than governments, that we should be careful about these entities — not mentioning any entity in particular.
That there are groups that can influence a sovereign state or can attempt to change the policies decided by the sovereign state. So they… Any leader of a country would probably take notice of that and be careful and to try to be careful.
Arlyn dela Cruz (Radyo Inquirer): Sir, good morning po.
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: Good morning, Arlyn.
Ms. Dela Cruz: You mentioned about the similarities, the respect to both leaders who are strong leaders. But they are, they’re running a democracy. Why is the shift, parang, [anong tawag dito?] paano napunta ‘yung shift ngayon to democracy run by strong leaders? Bakit napunta roon ‘yung ano, ‘yung paghanga, ‘yung pagsunod ng mga parehong mamamayan? They’re both popular in their own countries to shift in that kind of leadership?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: Yes. Oh, why are people shift in general, like strong leaders?
That’s… You see, history has only shown that people do like strong leaders and sometimes history has shown that that decision becomes… They regret it because the strong leader does something wrong.
In some instances, history has shown that strong leadership has led to the growth of the country, to benefits to the people.
So I guess, we’re hoping that that’s… I mean, people when they look for strong leadership, hope that it goes that way. The way where the strong leadership does benefit the country and that’s the — and does not just benefit the leader.
I think the appeal is there. I see here in Russia because they trust Mr. Putin. In the same way I see in our country, they trust our President and they’re willing to give them a chance.
The potential for abuse is always there historically but I look around the table, very, very smart people on the fourth estate and I doubt that they’re gonna allow it to happen.
Ms. Dela Cruz: Sir, the shift of the foreign policy of the Duterte administration comes at a time when Russia itself is shifting its interest in Asia. How does that play in the new policy of the Philippine government? What are their interests in East Asia in particular, Russia?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: Like you said, the timing is pretty good. Philippine pivot meets Russian rebalance. The Philippine pivot to Russia at the same time, again by coincidence, ends up meeting up with Russia’s rebalance to Asia.
And that’s… I think the timing is great and we should take advantage of that.
Russia has historically focused mostly on the European side so now they are expanding their — particularly their economic engagements on the eastern side, the Asian side of Russia.
Their cooperation with China, Korea and Japan is just absolutely amazing. Billions and billions of dollars worth of cooperation on the East side. Very sparsely populated areas and they’re focusing now on also on Southeast Asia. So I think it’s a good time.
Ms. Dela Cruz: Sir, just on economic expansion.
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: Yes, yes, Russia has emphasized economic… They don’t want to be a military power in our region.
They have no interest in competing with the existing power dynamics.
They want to engage our region, Southeast Asia, purely on economic, cultural, people to people. A million Russians go to Thailand every year and that’s on a bad year.
Doris Bigornia (ABS-CBN 2): Good morning, sir.
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: Hi, good morning po.
Ms. Bigornia: Sir, sabi mo over the years nashe-shed na ‘yung image ng Russia na kontrabida.
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: Sana po. Sana po. Hindi pa rin dahil ‘yung Hollywood mahilig pa rin— lahat ng kalaban ni Iron Man eh, tapos ‘yung assistant ni Captain America, tinorture ni — ng Russians. Brinainwash (brainwash), si Bucky ‘di ba, parang galit ang Marvel Comics sa Russia.
Ms. Bigornia: Hindi po ba sila kontrabida sa mga OFWs natin? Sa 5,000 na Filipinos na nandidito ilang porsiyento po doon ang domestic helpers and how are they treated?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: Malaki po ang… Salamat po. Malaki po ang porsiyento, halos — let’s say 90 percent is our household workers, nannies, caretakers ng second homes or ‘yung tinatawag na dacha.
Some many Russians have second homes outside. They are treated very well. In fact, they are treated so well. We have now recently had an influx of workers from Hong Kong and the Middle East coming in. They are treated very well. I have to say…Not..
Very rare ang instance ng abuse, very rare, rare. And usually it’s not even the employer that’s abused. And I won’t say anymore who are the…
Ms. Bigornia: Sir, paguwi po ba ni Pangulo meron siyang mga bibitbitin na mga distressed workers o ‘yung mga pinakawalan na?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: Baka hindi po kasi dadaan ng Dubai pala eh, dadaan ng Dubai. Mahirap kumuha ng visa sa Dubai.
Ms. Bigornia: So wala siyang dadalhin?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: Wala sa ngayon dahil — pero may instruction siya na i-repatriate. So ire-repatriate namin pero dadaan sa proseso.
Reporter: [ilan, sir?]
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: Ngayon anim ‘yung ire-repatriate namin sa… Pero diretso sa Pilipinas kasi ‘yung passport nila ano na eh kailangan ibibigay naming ‘yung tinatawag na travel document. Iyon po ay hindi pwede sa ibang bansa. Iyon ay pang-diretso sa Pilipinas.
Ms. Bigornia: Do they face cases here? Ano pong mga kaso?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: Hindi ho naayos po namin na hindi na sila kakasuhan ng violation ng Immigration. Pinakiusapan namin na kami na ang bahala. Inako na namin na sigurado — sinigurado namin na hindi na magtatrabaho at ipa — ire-repatriate na. So ‘yung iba meron na kami sa — meron kaming shelter eh. Wala naman…
So we are taking care of them and the Russian authorities know that they won’t be working… They are taking our word for it na hindi ra-runaway at maghahanap ng trabaho.
Ms. Bigornia: Last na lang, sir. Kasama po ba dito ‘yung mga miyembro ng Jehovah’s Witnesses?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: Wala hong Pilipino na naapektuhan nung ban on Jehovah’s Witness. In fact, I haven’t seen any — even non-Filipinos. I think they obeyed instructions and are not… They are not violating the law hopefully.
Konti sila… Nakausap namin sila lahat. We look for them. It’s not hard to find them because they like to — they go around. So alam ng mga Pilipino sino ‘yung Jehovah’s Witness.
Peng Aliño (Radyo ng Bayan): Just a follow up to the 17 arrested and —
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: Detained, detained.
Ms. Aliño: Detained, yes. So how are they now, sir?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: They are… We were able to get some concessions. Kasi some of them really want to continue working. They have already spent quite a bit to get here. So they…
Ang Filipino naman po dito mabait. They work hard. They don’t call attention to themselves. So, we were able to get a number of them to stay, to be allowed to stay. Then a number of them, the visas were shortened and then three are for deportation pero without penalties, walang kulong. Kasi dito pagka may violation na ganun, they like to teach a lesson eh, ikukulong muna.
And I always say, you don’t want to stay in a Russian prison. But I have… You know, that’s just me.
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star): Ambassador, you mentioned years back that I think Russia may be able to use the Philippines as pivot towards ASEAN. Do you still see that? I think you delivered some speech doon sa Foreign Policy Research Institute of Russia.
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: Yeah.
Mr. Romero: Parang do you think iyong visit na ‘to ni President Duterte can pave way ‘yung — magagamit para ‘yung sa pivot ng Russia towards stronger ties with ASEAN?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: I think the — for me, one of the strongest manifestations of a successful Russian pivot to our region is good relations with the Philippines. Kasi tayo po sa lahat ng Southeast Asian country ang pinakamababa ‘yung relasyon sa Russia.
‘Pag ‘yon ay napaangat nila, it becomes a metric na nagsa-succeed ‘yung ‘turn East’ policy nila.
So I’m using that and trying to get them to invest in our relationship. ‘Pag nag-succeed, para bang ‘yung ‘pag pinataba mo ‘yung pinakamaliit na itik, ibig sabihin lahat. Pero I can’t characterize the Philippines as maliit na itik.
So parang dito kasi they are very… This is a country of a great tradition of literature, of imagery, and sometimes in diplomacy have use some of… They have great painters, composers and a lot of literature. So sometimes you find in their literature some things you can cite. There’s something about itik in Russian literature. [laughter]
Henry Uri (DZRH): Hi, Ambassador.
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: Hi, Henry.
Mr. Uri: In one of the interviews with President Duterte, he said that he very well trusted Russian arms manufacturer rather than America. What’s so special about Russian armaments?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: For the Philippines and for me personally because I’ve… Ironically, before coming here, I used to handle the United States. I used to be Assistant Secretary for American Affairs. And in my career in the Department, I have actually negotiated every single military agreement starting when I was still in Law School and helping Professor [?] with the bases agreement.
The last agreement I led the negotiations was EDCA but that didn’t end well for me. So, in terms of why Russian arms? For me, I think one of the best arguments is there are no conditionalities. The arms will be sold and it will be… They trust us to use it properly.
I have always believed that our brave men and women in uniform should not be going into battle carrying arms attached to strings that run all the way to Washington. They cannot go into battle with these… But that’s what has been happening.
The armaments we… What little armaments we get from the United States is loaded with conditionalities. So, for the Russians…
Mr. Uri: Like what? Conditionalities? Can you mention those conditionalities?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: I think that’s quite well known already. I don’t want to go into the details about human rights conditionalities. Hindi monetary conditionality, hindi.
Mr. Uri: It’s more of…
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: Political ito.
Mr. Uri: Political affairs, policies.
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: Because I’ve been handling… I’ve been working, in fact, Secretary Lorenzana, I’ve been working with him since 2002 when he was Defense Attaché. We’ve had meetings with Rumsfeld at that time with Colin Powell and… They knew we needed, we wanted to end our internal threats and we needed certain equipment but the conditionalities are…
And also, aside from the conditionalities, there are — the Ame… Well, the Americans… Russians don’t have limitations. If you want to buy an attack helicopter, they will train you and make sure you use it — you know how to use it and they will sell it to you.
They will not say, ‘we are not going to sell it to you because we are afraid you might use — will not use it…’ We are talking about attack helicopters that can have — that has night vision and infrared that can detect enemies in the thick of the jungle at night. They were talking about air power that could eventually — that could be the turning point in our — fighting our internal threat.
The Russians will not limit it. They will sell it. They are not gonna give you a lecture ‘No, we won’t sell it because we don’t trust you. You might hit billions when the powerful arms on a…’
Have you seen these attack helicopters? They are scary-looking things. They are there like… They are like from outer space. It’s a… It’s really a weapons platform.
Q: Is this part of the deal?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: I can’t address that. Sorry I talk too long, taking off your time. I feel like I’m in class and the teachers… Yes, ma’am?
Ms. Salaverria: Sir, aside from cultivating our friendship and the economic ties, what do you think Russia hopes to get by, you know, moving closer to the Philippines? Do we represent any strategic value to them?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: The strategic value is largely economic. They do have quite a bit of products that they want to sell to the region, particularly energy products and industrial products.
Ms. Salaverria: Nuclear energy?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: We have to ask DOE about that. But Russia can provide a whole range of nuclear energy.
From full nuclear reactors and they all use — they use what’s called low and rich uranium. This is the fuel that’s supposed to be used. They can give… They have the, like, they have the full blown thousand megawatt and they also have the modular nuclear power.
You know, the modular has existed for a long time. The submarine, nuclear submarines and ships, they have modular nuclear reactor. They’ve been able to develop this commercially to become — for civilian use. About 300 megawatts.
The… Alam niyo ‘yung mga submarine, ‘di ba nuclear ‘yung power? And this can be like, two, three years hindi na magrerefuel. Now, they’ve been able to convert, develop — where you — if you want it, we’ll rent it and then we’ll put it in Palawan and then suddenly, electrical prices go down. If you don’t like it anymore, they’ll pull it out.
So we don’t have to build it. Essentially, we’ll just buy power from it, they can put, anywhere… They can put it on a barge, offshore, and then run cables and… Because I know there are safety issues, nobody wants to build a nuclear reactor on their land. They have options for us on how…
Noong ‘90s, nung bata pa kayo, nagkaroon ng power crisis, nagdala tayo ng barges. Hindi niyo na maalala ‘yun. Si Doris siguro baka maalala… Sorry ha. [laughter]
Ms. Bigornia: Napapanood ko lang sa pelikula ‘yan.
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: Hindi ba nagka madaming brownout ‘di ba?
Ang ginawa, nag-rent tayo nung barge, diesel barges. Iyong may parang nandoon ‘yung ano. This is… Pero ang lalaki no’n at saka it’s very dirty.
But now, you can rent a small barge with a nuclear reactor, well, the core will be as big as this room.
But the whole power plant itself is very small, the turbines of which fire it up. And it’s… Russia will… Essentially, just buy the energy because you don’t have to buy the fuel.
Russia in the fuel cycle, can control everything. They can produce the fuel, they can take away the spent fuel, they can reprocess it. The full fuel cycle. So these are the options for… Huwag lang babagsak ang presyo ng kuryente and then you can industrialize.
What they use this for now is, for example, they find a new mine somewhere in Kamchatka or in Siberia and they need to put up a little city to mine it, they bring this there on the back of a truck. And suddenly, you have 300 megawatts of power.
Then if you don’t want it there anymore, they’ll move it away. It’s actually quite safe. And if you’re still afraid of it, you can have the barge far, far away floating in, then the react—
Ms. Regalado: Sir, question po. Kasi the President has been saying even before he came here that what he wants is, you were talking about arms. You cannot—
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: Ano ho? Talking about?
Ms. Regalado: Arms. What he wanted was from Russia ‘yung precision bombs, ’yung walang palta, ‘yung laser-guided, ‘yung satellite-guided, like that. That is exactly what he wants here from Russia. Kasi sinabi mo about weapons. There was also another thing that the President said before. That Russia has been offering him ‘yung weapons na kinancel ng US pero sa atin, sa Russia, they offered a buy one, take one basis. Alam mo ba ‘yung buy one, take one?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: Yes. The terms of… When you buy arms in Russia, the terms are purely commercial. It’s not this… They don’t care if you bought from someone else before or…
Mr. Uri: Negosyo lang.
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: It’s negosyo lang. They don’t mind. The weapons that the Russians can provide, for example, to replace the M4 that we use, that we buy from the United States, the [Kalashnikov?] version of that is the same exact caliber and… But it’s — the construction is better, it will last a lot longer. And it will not take a lot of time for the soldier to clean, particularly kung nasa field, may giyera. Iyong M4 is a very complex gun to clean.
Ms. Regalado: Iyong precision bombs po?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: They have precision bombs. They are willing to… There are several ways to guide a bomb.
Ms. Regalado: Kasi ayaw ni Presidente magkaroon nang mas maraming collateral damage.
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: There are ways to avoid that by precision bomb. There are different guidance systems. They will… If we bought it, they would train us and then… Yeah…
I think our people are very, very capable of doing this. It’s a little high tech but I think we can do it. There are several ways to guide bombs. The terrorist is like to guide it by strapping it on their bodies.
Mr. Morong: Sir, just in terms of the schedule. Ano po ‘yung nakalatag na schedule for Ms. Honeylet and Sebastian? The son.
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: That, wait. I have not seen… There is a program. I am not handling the President’s program.
We have another team handling that. There’s a… I think it’s also important for the family to get a good idea of Russia, meet Russian people, experience Russian culture. I think that’s… I don’t know the specific where they will go, what time.
Ask me about the President’s, I know that. Pero I think in a general sense, they will meet Russians, maybe artists or some cultural and about…
With Baste, I’m not sure also but I think the family is eager to learn more about what the President has been saying — more personally Russians.
I think the only Russian they know is the Russian Ambassador. He’s a nice guy. Yeah. But there’s… there are many other Russians, not all Russians speak as fast as Igor or have the same hairstyle. So you can… Igor, I like him. No, we’re good friends, we’re good friends.[laughter]
Ms. Dela Cruz: Sir, ano lang, expound lang doon sa sinasabi niyong ‘it’s just negosyo’ at ‘yung sinasabi niyong they’re not interested to be a superpower in Asia or East Asia. What are the limitations in the agreements that will be signed as far as defense and military cooperation is concerned?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: The defense cooperation is quite limited. It’s just exchanges in expertise, exchanges in personnel, training, nothing as deep as we have with other countries. It’s a starting… We’re just starting out. Feeling each other out.
Q: Nothing like Balikatan exercises?
AMBASSADOR SORRETA: No, no, nothing like Balikatan exercise. I don’t think they want that either.
They want to develop closer ties and military to military is one way of doing it. But that doesn’t mean you’re preparing to be allies against a particular enemy.
Thank you very much.