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Philippines Secures US Alternative to Scrapped Russian Helicopter Deal: President

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. announced last week that the country has secured an American alternative to the Russian military helicopter deal the previous administration canceled in the wake of the Ukraine war.

The president has not revealed the US platform his country has chosen over the 16 Russian Mi-17 multi-purpose helicopters had agreed to buy, saying only that the aircraft would be manufactured in Poland. 

Philippine ambassador to Washington Jose Manuel Romualdez hinted in August that the Boeing CH-47 Chinook, which the US offered to Manila last year, was being considered as a replacement.

Deal Canceled Over Potential Sanctions

Former President Rodrigo Duterte‘s administration canceled the 12.7-billion-peso ($227 million) deal in June, fearing possible Western reprisal. 

Romualdez revealed that the deal was canceled amid sanction concerns, including restrictions on bank transfers by Filipino workers in the US and Western countries back home.

Two Philippine officials added that Western countries could also withhold financial assistance to the country, essential to fight the Coronavirus pandemic.

Backing the cancellation, Marcos Jr. said the government will negotiate to get back the initial payment it made to Russian aircraft manufacturer Sovtechnoexport.

Russia Alleges It Was Not Notified

The president was responding to the Russian ambassador to Manila Marat Pavlovs comment made a day earlier asking Manila to honor the deal.

Pavlov told reporters that the Philippine government has not officially notified Moscow of the cancellation and that manufacturing is underway. He added that Filipino pilots have undergone training to operate the aircraft in Russia.

“We are ready to fulfill all our obligations as a reliable partner of the Philippine side in the field of technical military cooperation and we consider that it will also be done by the Philippines,” Pavlov was quoted as saying by Associated Press.

Manilla Denies Moscow’s Allegation

Pavlov said that the first helicopter was ready to be shipped to the Philippines, “but unfortunately, it was not accepted by your [Philippine] government.”

However, the Department of National Defense in Manila said it had formally notified the aircraft manufacturer in June and September about the decision to cancel the deal.

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