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Philippines cancelling P12.797-billion chopper deal with Russia

The Philippines is cancelling its procurement from Russia of 16 helicopters worth P12.797 billion, the Department of National Defense said on Wednesday.

In a statement, DND spokesman Director Arsenio R. Andolong the department also reconstituted its the committee that would work on terminating the deal.

“The DND is formalizing the termination of the contract with SOVTECHNOEXPORT LLC of the Russian Federation for the procurement of 16 units of Mi-17 heavy-lift helicopters for the Philippine Air Force,” Andolong said.

Andolong said the DND was also preparing to start a diplomatic dialogue with Russia regarding matters arising from the project’s cancellation.

Asked about the reason for the cancellation, Andolong said there were “changes in priorities necessitated by global political developments.”

The Philippines already paid a P1.9-billion downpayment for the contract. Andolong said the committee would work on the refund.

Former Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has said that the Philippines could face sanctions from the United States because of the deal.

Asked why the country did not realize the possible sanctions before entering the deal with Russia, Andolong said that the purchase was initially intended for humanitarian assistance and disaster response and not for attack helicopters.

“Importante na point yun. Kung halimbawa ang equipment ay for assault, ibang usapan 'yun. It's just like we purchased non-military equipment or goods, e hindi 'yun ang intention ng CAATSA,” Andolong said.

(That is an important point. For example, the equipment is for assault, that is another story. It is just like we purchased non-military equipment or goods, that is not the intention of the CAATSA.)

Andolong was referring to the US' Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which imposed sanctions on Iran, North Korea, and Russia.

In March, some countries also imposed sanctions while several companies boycotted Russia after it invaded Ukraine.

In July, DND officer-in-charge Jose Faustino Jr. said all modernization projects for the Armed Forces of the Philippines were under review. —NB, GMA News