President Rodrigo Duterte strikes his signature pose with the members of his delegation while on board a plane bound for Sochi, Russia on Oct. 2, 2019. KING RODRIGUEZ/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Taxpayers will not pay for the cost of travel and accommodations for show business personalities who joined President Rodrigo Duterte’s second visit to Russia this week, the Palace said.

“They came over on their own,” Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo told reporters.

Joining the trip are actors Cesar Montano and Phillip Salvador, and comedian Moymoy Palaboy.

“The government did not spend for their fare and hotel accommodations,” Panelo clarified.

Also part of the delegation is blogger and former entertainer Mocha Uson, who is now deputy executive director of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

Duterte expressed optimism Wednesday for closer relations with Russia.

“In 2017, during my first visit to Russia, we successfully set the foundation for a closer bilateral cooperation. Since then, we have been — we have seen the remarkable progress in our engagement including such strategic areas as defense and security,” Duterte said in his opening remarks during a bilateral meeting with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev at the Prime Minister’s Office in Moscow on Wednesday.

In his separate remarks, Medvedev underscored the positive developments in the Philippines-Russia relations.

He noted that in less two years, trade between the two countries grew further and that President Duterte had always advocated for the development of trade and economic relations.

He reiterated Russia’s interests in continuing various projects in transportation, energy and agriculture sectors as well as humanitarian endeavors.

Duterte and Putin first met at the sidelines of the East Asia Summit back in 2016 in Vientiane, Laos, and in the Philippines in 2017. (