PH gov't to seek other sellers if Canada refuses chopper deal

Duterte also hinted that Canada should no longer expect the Philippines' help in times of trouble as long as he is president.

President Rodrigo Duterte's order, issued in a news conference, came after the Canadian government chose to review the 12 billion peso ($235 million) helicopter deal due to concerns the Philippine military might use the utility helicopters in counterinsurgency assaults.

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Friday, February 9, ordered the military to withdraw the plan to purchase 16 Bell helicopters worth $233 million from Canada as he admitted that the helicopters and other military equipment would be used for counter-insurgency assaults.

On Tuesday, the Philippines through Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana formally signed with Canadian Commercial Corporation, to purchase 16 helicopters.

The helicopters are scheduled to be delivered to the Philippines starting the first quarter of next year.

But it is also the latest to spark concerns from human-rights and arms-control groups, who have previously raised red flags about recent Canadian arms deals with Saudi Arabia, Colombia and other destinations.

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Canada said it would review the sale, including on human rights grounds, after Philippine Major-General Restituto Padilla told Reuters the helicopters would be used for the military's internal security operations.

Those include extrajudicial killings, the destruction of homes, unlawful arrests and other alleged violations.

Known for his impromptu decisions and public outbursts, the Philippine president declared in a nationally televised news conference that he wants the helicopter deal, and purchases of unspecified US weapons, halted. The most recent sale, Jagunos added, only underscores the need for answers and safeguards. "Do not push it through and somehow, we will look for another supplier".

Though Canada has sold weapons to Philippines, the relationship between Trudeau and his counterpart Rodrigo Duterte was not all well in 2017.

The helicopter deal with the Philippines, he said, represents yet another example. "And we will obviously review the facts and take the right decision", Champagne told reporters, without giving more details. It became an issue of human rights, as Canada is afraid the 412s would be used against Filipino citizens.

  • Sonia Alvarado