Rocket-propelled grenade launcher deal with Russia will proceed: DND

The Department of National Defense (DND), through its Public Affairs Service chief Arsenio Andolong, on July 19 told GMA News Online that the rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launcher deal with Russian Rosoboronexport will proceed as planned.

This is amid the possibility that the Philippines could breach United States sanctions against Russian intelligence and defense firms. The US passed the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions (CAATSA) Act last year.

CAATSA under Section 231(d) lists Rosoboronexport as among the blacklisted Russian company.

Andolong said the Philippines has not received any CAATSA notice.

“In keeping with the President’s guidance and his independent foreign policy, we are not limiting our sources to only a few countries in order to allow us to acquire the best technology allowed by our budget,” Andolong told GMA News Online.

“Notwithstanding the potential issues that may arise from CAATSA, our Modernization Program remains on track,” he added.

Asked by GMA News Online regarding the effect of Philippine-Russian arms deal, “hypothetical, they (US) can call our attention, they (US) can impose sanctions, kasi we have a standing agreement with them. So these are possible implications but ayaw pa namin mag-speculate kasi hindi pa nag-uusap ang gobyerno ng Pilipinas tsaka ng US tungkol dito sa CAATSA,” he said.

“So masyadong maaga pa na sabihin kong ganitong maaring mangyari, dapat sa kanila manggaling ‘yon hindi sa atin. As far as we’re concerned tuloy pa rin naman ang ating mga transactions with them,” he explained.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, during the July 19 press briefing, said they will study the matter when asked regarding the said deal.

“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,” Roque said.

“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,” Roque added.

According to Russian Ministry of Defence, 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.