Duterte orders military to cancel helicopter deal with Canada

Frederick Owens
February 10, 2018

Ottawa had raised concerns the choppers would be used to fight rebels after Maj.

Philippine defense officials gave assurances Thursday that the Bell 412EPI helicopters would be used to ferry supplies and troops, including those wounded in combat, and to respond to disasters, and would not be employed to attack insurgents.

But a senior officer in the Philippines military, which has been accused of committing human-rights abuses in its war with local terrorists and rebels, admitted they would be used for internal security operations.

Internal security operations refer to counterinsurgency operations.

The country recently signed a deal with Canada to buy 16 Bell helicopters, which will be delivered early next year.

"That is precisely why the minister ordered a review and that process will continue".

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But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also raised concerns about extrajudicial killings while visiting the country in November, specifically those related to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's violent crackdown on illegal drugs.

Cesar Jaramillo of arms-control group Project Ploughshares, said Canada has already supported the military of a known human-rights abuser through the multibillion-dollar sale of armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia.

He added that the Canadian government will make sure any deal entered into by the their government are "abiding by the rules and expectations that are not just values, but actual rules that the Canadian government has to follow".

"I am directing the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) not to buy anymore (military equipment) from Canada or from the United States because there is always a condition attached", Duterte said during the course of a press conference in Davao City. The Canadian leader was praised by human rights groups for raising the concerns, but Duterte said he was insulted and angered by the remarks.

The two governments announced the deal less than three months after Duterte and Trudeau clashed.

The Philippine defence department acquired eight of the same Bell aircraft model in 2015, which it said went mostly to an air force unit assigned with providing air transport for the Philippine president.

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