Philippine president orders military to scrap helicopter deal with Canada

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

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

Canda's Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said that the deal - formally signed on Tuesday - had been struck in 2012 on the understanding the helicopters would be used for search-and-rescue missions.

"If I can not use the gunship, the helicopter, then I might as well surrender this government to [the rebels]".

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.

Bell and the Philippine government had signed a deal last month to buy 16 Bell 412 helicopters for $233 million. I want to tell the armed forces to cut the deal. and somehow we will look for another supplier.

Gen. Restituto Padilla, chief of plans at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), said the helicopters would be used for internal security operations apart from deployment in search-and-rescue and disaster relief missions. "And we will obviously review the facts and take the right decision", Champagne told reporters according to another Reuters report. 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.

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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.

Neither the Canadian Commercial Corporation nor Global Affairs Canada responded to questions about whether the government conducted a human-rights assessment before approving the most recent helicopter sale. "The reason I'm buying helicopters is because I want to finish them off".

The Philippines employs attack helicopters and planes to support ground troops battling militants in the south, as well as against communist guerrillas in other parts of the Asian nation. They would be used in disaster relief efforts. "People just don't understand", said Duterte.

Human rights groups have raised concerns over the proposed sale to the Philippines.

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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