Palace to study US stand on PHL’s arms deal with Russia

Malacañang on Thursday said it will look into report that the Philippines could breach sanctions imposed by the United States against blacklisted Rosoboronexport if the country will purchase grenade launchers from Russia-state owned firm.

“Let me state the official position, we will study the matter,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said during Palace press briefing when asked for comment on Reuters’ report.

According to report, the Philippines had agreed in October last year to purchase PHP400 million (USD7.48 million) worth of 750 RPG-75 rocket-propelled grenade launchers from Rosoboronexport.

Roque, a professor of international and constitutional law, questioned the US’ legal basis to impose sanction on country like the Philippines that has “absolute immunity as a sovereign state”.

“I do not know how they can enforce a US domestic legislation on a sovereign state,” Roque said.

Roque expressed doubts whether the Philippines will violate the US sanctions on the Russian firm since “the sale will be most likely in Russia”.

“Number two: I do not know how US law could be applicable to a transaction that will be done outside of the United States,” Roque said.

“The goods are in Russia and the delivery in the Philippines. So what is the relevance of the US laws. It does not make sense if US laws have the effect of super laws applicable to anyone even outside of their jurisdiction specially if one party is a sovereign state,” he added.

As sovereign state, Roque said the Philippines has “immunity and we are free to enter into contracts as we pleased and we are not bound by any domestic law particularly where the transaction will not occur in US soil”.

Quoting an anonymous Philippine defense official, the report said the US has not officially notified the Philippines about the restrictions on Rosoboronexport which US blacklisted in April.

Roque said he has no idea if the arms deal will proceed but “the official stand is, we will study the matter”.

“But off hand, I am giving the legal position of the Palace that we do not see how we are bound by a US extra-territorial piece of legislation,” he said. PNA