“Let me state the official position (of the Palace), we will study the matter,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said.
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Palace to review purchase of grenade launchers from Russia
Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - July 20, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang will review the impact on the Philippines’ security relations with the United States if it proceeds with the purchase of P400 million worth of grenade launchers from Russia’s state-owned firm, an official said yesterday.

“Let me state the official position (of the Palace), we will study the matter,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said.

As a professor of International Law and Constitutional Law, Roque expressed doubt that the US government can impose sanctions on the Philippines for trading with Russia.

“I do not know how they can enforce a US domestic legislation on a sovereign state; on a transaction that will not occur in US soil. So this is an example of what is known as transnational legislation, extra-territorial legislation,” he said.

Roque said he does not see any legal basis for the US to impose sanctions against the Philippines.  

“As a sovereign nation, in the exercise of a function of national defense, we have absolute immunity as a sovereign state,” he said.

Since the deal would be between the Philippines and Russia, Roque sees no reason why the US should meddle.

“I do not know how US law could be applicable to a transaction that will be done outside of the US,” he said.

“The sale will be most likely in Russia. The goods are in Russia and will be delivered in the Philippines. So what is the relevance of US laws even outside of their jurisdiction,” he added.

As a sovereign state, Roque reiterated that the Philippines has immunity and is free to enter into any contracts the way it pleased. 

The Palace official made the statement in reaction to a report that the Philippines is at risk of breaching sanctions imposed by the US once it proceeds with the purchase of grenade launchers from the blacklisted Russian firm.

Reports said Manila agreed in October last year to acquire for P400 million ($7.48 million) RPG-7B rocket propelled grenade launchers from Russia’s state-owned firm Rosoboronexport, but the transfer has yet to be completed.

More helicopters for PAF

Meanwhile, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) is eyeing the delivery starting next year of more combat utility and attack helicopters either from South Korea, Italy or Russia.

PAF chief Lt. Gen. Galileo Gerard Kintanar said the procurement would include 16 combat utility helicopters and 20 attack helicopters.

“We are on the final stages of procurement. Definitely we’re going to get new helicopters,” Kintanar said.

 President Duterte has cancelled the government’s P12-billion deal with Canada Commercial Corp. involving 16 units of Bell 412 helicopters for the PAF.  – With Jaime Laude

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