MANILA, Aug 13 (DPA): The Philippines is officially cancelling a 12.7-billion-peso (US$227 million) contract to purchase 16 Russian military transport helicopters, the government has announced this week.
"The Department of National Defence is formalizing the termination of the contract with SOVTECHNOEXPORT LLC of Russia for the procurement of 16 units of Mi-17 heavy-lift helicopters for the Philippine air force,” said Arsenio Andolong, the department’s spokesman.
Andolong said the department’s contract review committee will "undertake the appropriate processes and exercise due diligence in formalizing the termination of the project's contract.”
"We are also preparing to initiate a diplomatic dialogue with the Russian side regarding matters arising from the project’s cancellation,” he added in a statement.
Former defence secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the decision to cancel the contract was made in the last days of administration of former president Rodrigo Duterte due to fears of US sanctions amid the Russia-Ukraine war.
He said the decision was made after the Philippine ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez warned that "the disadvantage that (the Philippines) will get is more than [the advantage] if we get the choppers.”
Lorenzana said he was not certain if the government would still be able to recover a 2-billion-peso downpayment made for the contract.