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US to extend $100-M military financing to Philippines after Russia chopper deal nixed

The United States is set to extend $100 million in foreign military financing to the Philippines following the government’s cancellation of a billion-peso helicopter deal with Russia.

In JP Soriano’s report on “24 Oras” on Monday, US Ambassador MaryKay Loss Carlson thanked the Philippines for its decision, which came amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

“We're very grateful to the government of the Philippines for making the decision, especially in the wake of Russia's illegal attack of the unprovoked war in Ukraine, to cancel the helicopter deal,” said Carlson in an interview with reporters.

The Department of National Defense (DND) in August said it is canceling its procurement of 16 Mi-17 helicopters worth P12.797 billion from Moscow, despite having made a P1.9-billion down payment in November 2021.

Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez earlier said that the Philippines may consider replacing the canceled order for helicopters with an order for weapons. He also said that the Philippines is looking into acquiring heavy-lift Chinook helicopters from the US instead.

According to Carlson, the $100 million in financing may be used by the DND to offset the down payment costs.

“We have notified Congress of our intent to make available to the Philippines $100 million in military financing which could be used by the Department of National Defense to offset the helicopter purchase for example. But we would not dictate the modernization efforts within the DND,” she added.

If the Russia deal had pushed through, the US could have placed sanctions against the Philippines under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) even despite having a military alliance.

GMA News has reached out to the DND for comment.

Press freedom

At the event, the US envoy also expressed solidarity with media workers, saying the killing and threatening of journalists are harmful to a country’s democracy.

“We support freedom of expression. We support press freedom. We approach all of these problems with concern and are ready to take action when we can. Certainly to raise them in our private meetings with the government officials when that makes sense,” said Carlson.

As for the possible state visit of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to Washington or US President Joe Biden to Manila, Carlson said: “President Biden has extended the invitation to President Marcos to visit Washington. And that's something that we will continue to work on with the White House.” — BM, GMA News