The Department of National Defense will review the Philippines’ planned purchase of military helicopters from Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, Malacañang said Friday.
This followed Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s statement that the multibillion-peso deal with Moscow would still push through despite Manila’s denouncement of the former’s invasion of Ukraine.
“The procurement of these equipment falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of National Defense. They will be reviewing this matter vis-a-vis what is happening now in Eastern Europe,” Palace acting deputy spokesperson Kristian Ablan said.
The Philippines earlier voted in favor of the UN General Assembly resolution that demanded Russia stop its attack on Ukraine.
The Palace, meanwhile, deferred to the Department of Foreign Affairs questions on reports that President Rodrigo Duterte would allow US forces to use Philippine military bases if the Ukraine-Russia crisis “spills” to Asia.
“We will wait for the official statement of the DFA,” Ablan said.
As this developed, the head of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) said a total deployment ban to Ukraine was “forthcoming” amid Russia’s military action there.
OWWA administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said the ban would be issued by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
The DFA raised Alert Level 4 in Ukraine on March 7 due to the deteriorating security situation that threatens the safety of Filipinos there.
Ukraine has been home to nearly 400 Filipinos and since the war broke out, the Philippine government was able to bring home dozens of Filipinos from the eastern European state.
According to the DFA, 169 Filipinos have been evacuated since Russia launched its operations in Ukraine on February 24.
Cacdac said 114 Filipinos had been repatriated since the start of the invasion, adding the repatriation was continuing.
On Thursday, Manila’s top diplomat to Washington said President Duterte expressed his willingness to open Philippine facilities to the United States military if the Russian-Ukraine crisis spilled over to Asia.
“He says if they’re asking for the support of the Philippines he was very clear that if push comes to shove the Philippines will be ready to be part of the effort especially if this Ukrainian crisis spills over to the Asian region,” Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez said.
“He offered that the Philippines will be ready to open its doors especially to our ally the US in using our facilities, any facilities they may need,” Romualdez added.