Duterte to fly to Russia on May 25

MANILA, Philippines – A date has apparently been set for President Rodrigo Duterte's much anticipated visit to Russia.

Duterte himself revealed the date for his trip during a speech on Thursday night, March 2, in Mactan, Cebu.

"Sabi man ng Russia (Russia said), we have everything you need, just come here. So I'm going there with Lactao, May 25," said the President.

He was referring to Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Central Command chief Army Major General Oscar Lactao.

Duterte then said he is looking forward to meeting beautiful Russian women.

"Maganda yung mga Russians. 'Yun naman ang puntahan mo," he said, eliciting laughter from his audience. (The Russians are beautiful. That's what you go there for.)

He also said he intends to have a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom he met for the first time in November 2016 during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Peru.

Duterte has described Putin as his "idol."

Government-to-government deals, mostly to do with military cooperation and economic partnership, are expected to be signed during the visit.

The visit was arranged during May, one of the hottest months in Russia, because the 71-year-old Duterte is averse to cold climates.

In December of last year, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr flew to Moscow to discuss the trip and planned agreements. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.