PHL studying deal with Russia for RPG launchers

The Philippine government will be studying the possible implications of purchasing 744 units of Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) launcher worth 408 million pesos from Russia with regards to United States imposed sanctions against Russian intelligence and defense firms.

“Let me state the official position: We will study the matter,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said during the July 19 press briefing in Malacañang when asked to comment on report that the Philippines could breach US sanctions if the said Russian arms deal proceeds.

National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Director General of JSC Rosoboronexport Alexander Mikheev signed the deal for supply and delivery of RPG-7V grenade launchers and ammunition in October 2017 at the sidelines of 4th ASEAN Defence Ministers-Plus Meeting in in Clark, Pampanga.

Delivery is yet to be made.

Rosoboronexport is included in the list of US Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions (CAATSA) Act of 2017 under Section 231(d).

However, Roque said as professor of international law, he does not know how can US enforce its domestic law on a sovereign state like the Philippines. He added that the transaction will not occur on a US soil.

“The Philippines is a sovereign state, we have immunity, and we are free to enter into contracts as we please and we are not bound by any domestic law particularly the transaction will not occur in US soil,” he said when asked if the government is concerned on the possibility of the deal affecting US-Philippine alliance.

“The official stand is we will study the matter, but off hand I’m 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.