undergroundnewsroom.com March 23, 2018

Canada sells 16 helicopters to Philippines after drug war row

12 February 2018, 01:34 | Damon Campbell

Champagne orders review of controversial helicopter deal with the Philippines

Minister of International Trade Francois Philippe Champagne announced Wednesday that he had ordered a review of the helicopter deal after a senior member of the Philippine military said the aircraft would also be used in “internal security operations

Bell Helicopter said in an announcement of the deal that the aircraft were intended "for a variety of missions such as disaster relief, search and rescue, passenger transport and utility transport".

He said while he respects Canada's stand, he no longer wants to purchase military equipment from Canada or the United States because "there is always a condition attached".

"These are multi-purpose aircraft for anti-terrorism as well as HADR", he said, using military lingo that refers to disaster response and humanitarian missions.

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

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

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, during a talk at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, said that the Canadian government is "in the process of looking" into the deal.

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Duterte said his country has the right to deploy the helicopters as it wishes."Invariably (these helicopters) will be used against the rebels and terrorists". "And we want the government to look into that to see if the helicopters are indeed being used in combat that are harming and killing civilians".

"Do not buy any more from Canada and the U.S. because there is always a condition attached", he said, referring to defence materiel.

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.

"We are going to make sure before this deal or any other deal goes through that we are abiding by the rules ... that Canadian governments have to follow", he said.

The Canadian leader was praised by human rights groups for raising the concerns, but Duterte said he was insulted and angered by the remarks.

Opposition parties and human-rights groups have called for the cancellation of the sale of light-armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia over concerns they would be misused. It became an issue of human rights, as Canada is afraid the 412s would be used against Filipino citizens.

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