April 19, 2018

Philippines president orders cancelation of $233mn helicopter deal with Canada

10 February 2018, 02:15 | Rufus Hill

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said it was unavoidable that the choppers would be used against'rebels and terrorists More

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said it was unavoidable that the choppers would be used against 'rebels and terrorists'

The prime minister said Canada has clear rules and controls around the sale of arms and "potential military vehicles like helicopters" to foreign countries.

"They must not politicise the acquisition", said Major-General Restituto Padilla, the deputy chief of staff for plans and programmes of the Philippine armed forces, today.

Amnesty International Canada asked whether a human rights assessment was conducted for the Philippines deal, and if any provisions are in place to ensure the helicopters are used properly. "Somehow we will look for another supplier", the President said during a press conference in Davao City. He said he wants to "finish off" the communist rebels which he has blamed for deadly attacks on government troops. "We respect the stand of Canada", Duterte said in a televised briefing.

"I hope that we will never be called upon to use arms in their defense or for them".

In Ottawa, Canadian Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said in a statement that Duterte's "troubling comments only underscore the confusion and contradictions that have emerged recently on the intended end use of the helicopters".

The Liberal government had defended the deal, which is being facilitated by the Canadian Commercial Corp., arguing the Montreal-built Bell helicopters would be used during search-and-rescue missions and disaster relief.

According to a report, the Philippines signed a deal with Canada on February 7 for the sale of 16 combat utility choppers worth $233.36 million, or roughly P12 billion pesos.

But Duterte said on Friday he did not blame the United States and that he remains a staunch supporter of its president, Donald Trump, whom he said was misunderstood. "He is doing it also for his country, people just don't understand him".

Mr Trudeau told journalists that he spoke with the Mr Duterte about concerns related to extrajudicial killings linked to the president's war on drugs. Human rights groups have reported much higher death tolls and accused law enforcers of carrying out extrajudicial killings and of setting up crime scenes to make the victims appear to have fought back.

The Canadian PM said Duterte has been receptive to comments regarding his government's crackdown on drug dealers that had claimed several lives.

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