Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Monday the cooperation with Russia being sought by the Philippine government is not in the level of the Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States.
Interviewed in Camp Aguinaldo, the Philippine military headquarter, Lorenzana said the agreement being eyed with the Russians is the form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which he said only paves the way for possible joint exercises and student exchange.
Lorenzana clarified that the MOU was first proposed during the time of President Aquino in 2014.
"The draft is almost finished and it will be one of the documents that will be signed, if we finish the nitty-gritty, during the visit of the president to Russia sometime in April or May," said Lorenzana.
Philippine Defense Department Assistant Secretary Jose Quilop earlier said a proposed Agreement on Defense Cooperation is being finalized with Russia so it could be signed during President Duterte's visit to Moscow this year.
"The MOU is about exchange of military personnel, visits, observation of their exercisesThey can send students to our schools, we can send personnel to their school," said Lorenzana.
"We will observe their exercises. If we need their expertise, then we will join the exercisesThat's the framework of the MOU that is going to be signed. It could be joint exercises but initially, it's going to be exchange of visits," he added.
Lorenzana said the cooperation with Russia is not going to affect the Philippine relations with the United States. The Philippines and the United States forged the Mutual Defense Treaty in August 1951 which calls for mutual response in case of an external armed attack.
"It's only a military to military cooperation," said Lorenzana of the agreement being forged with Russia, "It's not similar to the Mutual Defense Treaty which mandates them to help us in case we're attacked. We won't have that with Russia."
Lorenzana also said a group of Russian military officers are due to arrive in the Philippines this month to discuss the weapons that may be acquired from Russia.