THE Philippine government has extended its congratulations to Russian President Vladimir Putin following his election victory, allowing him to extend his rule in Russia for another six years, Malacañang said on Monday, March 19.

"We can only congratulate him because we don't meddle in the affairs of other states," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. told a press conference in Nabua, Camarines Sur.

Putin has secured a landslide election victory in Russia, the largest and one of the most powerful nation in the world, after he earned over 76 percent of the vote, according to official poll results cited by international reports.

Putin has dominated the political landscape in Russia for the last 18 years. He is the longest-serving Russian leader since Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, who led the Soviet Union for almost three decades between 1924 and 1953.

President Rodrigo Duterte has sought a strong alliance with Russia, which he described as the Philippines' "friend."

In his first months in office, Duterte has veered away from the United States, a long-time ally of the Philippines, and looked forward to establishing new and improved ties with Russia and China.

In a speech delivered in 2017, the Philippine leader expressed hope that the Philippines and Russia would have a "positive engagement."

“Russia is a country that we must work with. There are opportunities for cooperation that cannot be ignored. With its geographic footprint in the Asia-Pacific region and strategic interests in the region, a positive engagement is required to find areas of synergies and interests,” he said. (Ruth Abbey Gita/SunStar Philippines)