US gov't seeks $100-M foreign military aid for PH

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 18) — The United States government on Monday said it is asking its Congress to infuse $100 million (roughly ₱5.9 billion) worth of military aid to the Philippines to help fund its modernization program.

The announcement came after Manila scrapped its ₱12.7-billion helicopter deal with Russia.

US envoy Mary Kay Carlson reiterated the announcement when asked how Washington can step in to help Manila pursue the acquisition of much-needed heavy-lift helicopters.

Carlson said the Philippines may use the amount, if approved, to offset the initial payment it made for the cancelled Russian chopper deal and instead opt for American helicopters.

She, however, pointed out that it will still be up to the Philippine defense department on how it plans to use the $100-million aid to be coursed through the US foreign military financing (FMF).

Under FMF, Washington may allocate funding to a partner nation like the Philippines to purchase US defense articles and services.

It remains unclear if the proposed aid will be through a grant or a direct loan.

"There was a cancellation of the helicopters which we were very grateful for and then we have notified Congress of our intent to make available to the Philippines $100 million for military financing which could be used by the Department of National Defense to offset those helicopter purchase, for example," Carlson said.

The proposed amount is reportedly more than double than what Washington had allocated in 2022.

Days before former President Rodrigo Duterte stepped down in June, his administration decided to drop the agreement to purchase 16 military helicopters from Russia, citing fear of sanctions from the United States.

Under a 2017 federal law, the U.S. government can impose sanctions on entities with significant defense or intelligence transactions with Russia.

The possibility of retrieving the Philippine government's initial payment of ₱2 billion for the Mi-17 helicopters is up in the air and the ball is now in the court of the Marcos administration.