MANILA – The Philippines will not push through with its contract to purchase 16 military heavy-lift helicopters from Russia, President Ferdinand R. Marcos said Thursday.
Marcos made the remark after Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Marat Pavlov urged the Philippines to honor its PHP12.7 billion deal to purchase military helicopters after it was scrapped during the administration of former president Rodrigo Duterte due to fears of possible US sanctions.
“I think it has already been determined. It was already determined by the previous administration that that deal will not carry through, will not go on,” Marcos told reporters in an interview at the Manila Hotel.
He said the Philippines had already sought an “alternative” supply of military helicopters from the US.
“The deal with Russia was for some heavy-lift helicopters and now we have secured an alternative supply from the United States through the manufacturer Poland. In any case, mayroon na tayong kapalit (we now have a replacement),” he said.
In February, the Department of National Defense (DND) signed a PHP32 billion deal to purchase 32 Black Hawk helicopters from Poland-based aerospace manufacturer PZL Mielec.
It was the largest military aircraft acquisition contract signed under the Duterte administration.
“The deal as it stood maybe, at the beginning or in the middle of last year, has already been canceled and we have secured another alternative supply for those helicopters that we need,” the President added.
Meanwhile, Marcos said the government would try to retrieve the PHP1.9 billion down payment the Philippines has made.
“Unfortunately, we made a down payment that we are hoping to negotiate to get at least a percentage of that back,” he said.
Defense officer in charge, Senior Undersecretary Jose Faustino Jr., earlier admitted that the deal "has not been officially canceled" but a contract termination review committee has already been formed to process it.
Faustino said the government is also working to negotiate a refund that was given as advance payment "through diplomatic channels", considering that the project was implemented through government-to-government procurement.
The helicopter purchase agreement with Russia’s Sovtechnoexport was signed in November last year.
Last July, former defense chief Delfin Lorenzana disclosed that he terminated the contract based on the possible impact of several sanctions imposed on Russia due to its war on Ukraine. (PNA)