Published: Mon, February 12, 2018
Global | By Enrique Rogers

Philippines says Canada helicopters 'not for attack'

Philippines says Canada helicopters 'not for attack'

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Friday, February 9, ordered the military to withdraw the plan to purchase 16 Bell helicopters worth $233 million from Canada as he admitted that the helicopters and other military equipment would be used for counter-insurgency assaults.

The deal represents another win for the Canadian defence industry when it comes to the Southeast Asian nation; Canada also sold eight Bell helicopters made in Montreal to the Philippines armed forces in 2015.

Although he said he respects Canada's stand, Duterte said using the helicopters just to ferry troops and dead soldiers is "a insane proposition".

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".

Mr Lorenzana said on Thursday that the helicopters will be used in a "limited" role primarily "for the transportation of personnel and supplies, ferrying wounded and injured soldiers, and the conduct of humanitarian and assistance and disaster response (HADR) operations".

Last year, Duterte earlier promised that he would purchase 23 armed helicopters to help them fight terrorists and other enemies of the state. "And we will obviously review the facts and take the right decision", Champagne told reporters according to another Reuters report. "The reason I'm buying helicopters is because I want to finish them off".

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He appeared in a number of videos slaughtering hostages including British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning. Kotey was also responsible for recruiting several British nationals to join the jihadis, the State Department said.

Trudeau said in November he had called out Duterte over "human rights, the rule of law, and specifically extrajudicial killings".

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

President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman warned Manila may walk away from the deal in light of the controversy.

Almost 4,000 mostly poor drug suspects have been killed in clashes with police, according to police officials, who say the suspects resisted violently. "People just don't understand", said Duterte.

The Philippine government says police only shot the suspects in self-defence and rejects human rights monitors' description of the crackdown as a crime against humanity.

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