MANILA (AFP) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte toured a visiting Russian warship on Friday (April 21) for the second time in barely four months as he highlighted his growing closeness to Moscow.
"The Russians are with me, I shall not be afraid," Duterte was quoted as saying during a visit to the Russian guided missile cruiser Varyag which is on a port visit to Manila.
Duterte toured the ship, posing for pictures with Russian sailors and in front of the vessel's huge missile-launchers, on what was the fourth ever port call by a Russian naval ship to the Philippines.
Since taking office in June, Duterte - who describes himself as a socialist - has been distancing himself from the Philippines' traditional ally, the United States and moving closer to its rivals, China and Russia.
In an indication of these closer ties, two Russian ships led by the submarine-hunter Admiral Tributs, made a "goodwill visit" to Manila in January, when Duterte also toured the Russian vessel.
Duterte has said he plans to purchase military equipment from Russia rather than the United States and is due to visit in May to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Earlier, Philippine navy spokesman Captain Lued Lincuna said the visit of the Russians was "a manifestation of good relations with them, to enhance our maritime cooperation," he told reporters.
Captain Leo Miado, one of the Philippine naval officers overseeing the visit, said sailors from the two countries would engage in training, adding "we can view the advanced equipment of the Russian navy in line with our modernisation efforts."