Philippines says Canada helicopters 'not for attack'

12 February, 2018, 01:36 | Author: Kim Reid
  • Champagne orders review of controversial helicopter deal with the Philippines

"We respect the stand of Canada", he said during a media briefing Friday morning.

But International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne announced Wednesday he had ordered a review of the deal, which was finalized in December, after a senior member of the Philippines military said the aircraft would also be used in "internal security operations".

"I want to tell the armed forces to cut the deal, and somehow we will look for another supplier", Duterte said.

"When we saw that declaration... we immediately launched a review with the relevant authorities".

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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"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.

"If they don't want to sell, we may consider the prospect of procuring them from other sources", Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. said on Thursday.

Trudeau, who raised human rights concerns to President Rodrigo Duterte previous year, replied: "Absolutely".

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.

Philippine troops are battling militants in the Muslim south and communist guerillas in other parts of the mainly Catholic country. But Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana clarified on Thursday that the helicopters made by Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. company, will be used for humanitarian operations.

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He said if he can not use the equipment against locals "contaminated" by ISIS, he might as well "surrender the government" to them.

News of the sale caused some in Canada to raise concerns over Duterte's human rights record.

Duterte said past investigations failed to turn up evidence that he ordered extrajudicial killings of specific people, although he acknowledged he has threatened to kill those who destroy his country's youth.

Duterte, who has overseen a crackdown that has left almost 4,000 drug suspects dead at the hands of the police, later described Trudeau's comments as "a personal and official insult".

The Philippine government says police have only shot suspects in self-defence and rejects human rights groups' claims the crackdown is a crime against humanity.

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