The Long View Context: DFA went rogue while President tries to salvage Russian arms deals

11th emergency special session of the 193-member U.N. General Assembly on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
I suggested in my column yesterday that the President, to put it bluntly one way, was out of the loop when the Philippines made its statement in the UN General Assembly; put another way, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs went rogue and on his own authority or initiative or both, made Philippine foreign policy without leave from the one authorized to make that policy –the President. It was, of course, a statement that put the Philippines foursquare in the corner of Ukraine where most of the world is, anyway. But still.
My understanding is that there was a term for what was, up to that point, the Philippine position, which was to studiously ignore the Ukrainian situation and any lobbying to shift the Philippine position to one supportive of that embattled country. Instead, the silent treatment equally conducive to Russia and China, was being called “strategic silence.”
The Inquirer editorial on March 1 reinforces my belief that the Philippines jettisoned a previous position when it made a statement in the UN General Assembly and that this was without presidential knowledge or approval:

Despite being a founding member of the UN and, as such, making it committed to opposing war as a means of settling disputes, the Philippines was not one of those that voted for the ill-fated resolution that was unsurprisingly vetoed by Russia.

In fact, five days after Russia began its invasion of its peaceful neighbor, the Philippine government has yet to make a pronouncement about its official position on the matter.

The closest thing heard from a ranking government official was the pronouncement made by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana who said that the country was “going to be neutral for now … We should not meddle in the affairs in Europe, because we are not beside the borders of Ukraine.”

This stance is unfortunate, if not shortsighted.

Speaking of defense. The link below will take you to an extremely detailed story updated over a period of years right down to the present:
Essentially it says that while medium to heavy lift choppers do feature in Philippine military modernization plans, it’s only in later phases and besides, overall there’s been a preference for American hardware, specifically the Chinook.
But President Duterte, foiled in his overall desire to institute a total withdrawal from American arms purchases, something he’d pushed practically from the start, although it intruded into the already-developing ecosystem (see this chart: South Korea, Indonesia, USA being top 3 suppliers, 2016-2020) finally agreed to the purchase of some American choppers (Blackhawks) on the specific condition that Russian choppers be bought for the heavy lift category –and that the purchase should be moved up and made a priority.
Both the article above and this summary of Russia’s arms sales efforts in the region, however, point to CAATSA, the imposition of sanctions against Russia (and other countries, and those transacting with them) as the main stumbling block for Philippine government arms purchases.
What is of interest here as I mentioned in my column, is that aside from American government legislation, the Philippines were it to pursue arms purchases from Russia, would face the condemnation of many notions and their publics. This is ticklish because Russian arms deals are of great interest to the President but his term is winding down; hence his announced intention to meet with the military, police, and businessmen is interesting to those who might want to look further into the implications of those deals.
Mil Mi-171Sh helicopter from
I found these articles useful for my column and recommend them for further reading:
Russia :
The Philippines, Russia, and China:
(The content of this post appeared earlier in my Newsletter. Why not subscribe?)

Manuel L. Quezon III.

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