By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said that despite the United States’s policy to sanction countries purchasing military equipment from Russia, other countries are still procuring their hardware from the global superpower.
Esperon made the statement following reports that the Philippines is at risk of breaching sanctions by the US over the country’s reported purchase of a P400-million 750 RPG-7B rocket-propelled grenade launchers from Russia’s state-owned Rosoroboronexport.
According to Esperon, he is aware of the said policy but is uncertain if there is a new issuance.
“There has been a standing policy of the US to sanction countries that purchase military equipment from the Russian Federation. I am not sure if there is a new issuance,” he said Friday.
“By the way, India, Malaysia, and now Indonesia procured their fighter jets from Russia,” he added.
According to Esperon, it is only Rosoboronexport that is the authorized exporter for the Russian Federation.
Earlier, while Malacañang said that it will study the matter, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that he does not know how can such US laws affect something that is not happening inside US territory.
“I do not know how US law could be applicable to a transaction that will be done outside the United States. The sale will be most likely in Russia, the goods are in Russia, and the delivery in the Philippines. So what is the relevance of US laws?” he said.
According to Roque, the Philippines, as a sovereign state, has absolute immunity in its exercise of a function of national defense.
“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 where the transaction will not occur in US soil,” he said.
However, Roque is uncertain about the fate of the arms deal between the Philippines and Russia.
“Well, I do not know if it is a go. The official stand is we will study the matter. But off-hand, I am giving the legal position of the Palace — that I do not see how we are bound by a US extraterritorial piece of legislation,” he said.
US sanctions were imposed since last year against any country trading with Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors. This is to punish Russia for its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, support for Syria’s government, and alleged meddling in the 2016 US elections.
The Philippines has long relied on the United States for its military hardware and support. However, President Duterte’s foreign policy shifted and now aims to establish closer ties with both Russia and China.
In several instances, Duterte thanked Russia for their assistance in the Marawi crisis and lauded the world giant for not asking for anything in return.