Duterte orders military to cancel helicopter deal with Canada

National flags representing Canada Mexico and the U.S. are lit by stage lights at the North American Free Trade Agreement NAFTA renegotiations in Mexico City Tuesday Sept. 5 2017. International Trade Minister Francois Philippe Champagne is briefin

Champagne orders review of controversial helicopter deal with the Philippines

President Duterte has ordered the military to scrap its procurement of helicopters from Canada and shop for the aircraft elsewhere.

President Rodrigo Duterte's order, issued in a news conference Friday, came after the Canadian government chose to review the $300-million helicopter deal because of concerns the Philippine military might use the utility helicopters in counterinsurgency assaults. "Somehow we will look for another supplier". Huwag na ituloy (Do not proceed with it).

Duterte made the pronouncement in a press conference in Davao City.

"They must not politicise the acquisition", said Major-General Restituto Padilla, the deputy chief of staff for plans and programmes of the Philippine armed forces.

He admitted that the government was buying helicopters precisely to advance the government's operations against local insurgents.

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.

"We respect their values".

Duterte cited conditions imposed by the American country, which had sold the equipment under the terms they would be used for evacuation and emergency purposes only.

"I hope that we will never be called upon to use arms in their defense or for them. We can not use it for anti-insurgency because if it is used against the Filipino rebels, they will not sell it", he said.

Bell Helicopter signed a deal at the Singapore Air Show Feb. 6 for 16 412EPIs.

Earlier, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque had said the helicopters will be used for humanitarian operations, although he kept silent on other uses for the new military hardware.

Ottawa said on Thursday that the deal was under review due to concerns about the human rights record of Duterte, the subject of a complaint being considered by the International Criminal Court over the alleged "mass murder" of thousands of Filipino drug suspects.

"President Duterte's government has achieved global notoriety for its blatant disregard of basic human rights and its systematic threats against human rights activists", Jaramillo said in an email.

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