Up to Marcos admin to recover P2-B payment for Russian choppers: Lorenzana

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 04 2022 08:28 PM

Paratroopers of the Hungarian Army’s 24th Gergely Bornemissza Scout Regiment prepare for a take-off aboard a Mi-17 helicopter during their drill at the airport of Hajduszoboszlo, Hungary, 11 May 2022 (issued 12 May 2022). The paratroopers made their jumps from heights between 500 and 3,000 meters as a tribute to late Staff Sergeant Szabolcs Gal, a member of the Hungarian Armed Forces world champion parachute team, of the 86th Szolnok Helicopter Base. EPA-EFE/Zsolt Czegledi
Paratroopers of the Hungarian Army’s 24th Gergely Bornemissza Scout Regiment prepare for a take-off aboard a Mi-17 helicopter during their drill at the airport of Hajduszoboszlo, Hungary, 11 May 2022 (issued 12 May 2022). The paratroopers made their jumps from heights between 500 and 3,000 meters as a tribute to late Staff Sergeant Szabolcs Gal, a member of the Hungarian Armed Forces world champion parachute team, of the 86th Szolnok Helicopter Base. EPA-EFE/Zsolt Czegledi

MANILA — It is up to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. whether or not his administration will initiate moves to recover government payments on a scrapped P12.7-billion helicopter deal with Russia, former Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Thursday.

Lorenzana, who now chairs the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), said he is not sure if the government can still recover the P2-billion downpayment it made with Russia. The deal was abandoned five days before former President Rodrigo Duterte stepped down from office on June 30.

The former defense chief earlier said that the Philippines called off the deal to purchase 17 units of heavy-lift Mi-17 helicopters due to fears of sanctions from the United States.

“It was cancelled. It was the decision of the President to cancel it,” Lorenzana told reporters on Wednesday. 

“I was the one who terminated it because I was the one who signed the contract…I sent the communication to terminate the contract,” he added.

The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act of 2017 prohibits countries from purchasing Russian military hardware.

Lorenzana said US Ambassador to the Philippines Jose Manuel Romualdez also wanted the contract to be terminated.

“He (Romualdez) said it’s better for us to terminate the contract than to pursue it because the disadvantage that we will get is more than if we get the choppers,” he said.

“But we already paid P2 billion with the Russians…I don’t know if we can still get back the money since we were the ones who terminated the contract,” said Lorenzana.

The Department of National Defense (DND) earlier said the downpayment was made in January, two months after the government signed a contract with Russia's LLC Sovtechnoexport.

A security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it may not be possible to recover the down payment.

“They may say they already started the production of the helicopters when we made the downpayment…They can say we incurred costs already,” the official said.

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