Philippines president orders cancelation of $233mn helicopter deal with Canada

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte. REUTERS  Dondi Tawatao

The Canadian Commercial Corp., whose role includes selling military goods to other countries on behalf of the government, says the Philippines agreed to buy the Canadian-made Bell helicopters at the end of December.

Duterte said on Friday he respected Canada's stand but added it was unavoidable that the Philippine air force would used the choppers "against the rebels and terrorists".

Philippine defense officials gave assurances Thursday that the Bell 412EPI helicopters would be used to ferry supplies and troops, including those wounded in combat, and to respond to disasters, and would not be employed to attack insurgents.

Last year, the Canada-based International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines wrote to Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland asking whether the Canadian helicopters sold in 2015 had been used for such purposes. "We can not use it for anti-insurgency because if it is used against the Filipino rebels, they will not sell it", he said.

Duterte ordered to scrap the 233-million-dollar deal after Canada ordered a review of the deal and expressed concern the helicopters might be used to fight the rebels.

Duterte said while he did not question Canada's logic, his logic was based on "reality on the ground".

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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.

"I assure you, I am supporting Trump". He is doing it also for his country.

But Trudeau's comment was not well accepted by Duterte. "And we will obviously review the facts and take the right decision", Champagne told reporters, without giving more details.

Duterte, who has overseen a crackdown that is said to have left almost 4,000 drug suspects dead, described Trudeau's comments as "a personal and official insult".

"While some of such killings have reportedly occurred in the context of clashes between or within gangs, it is alleged that numerous reported incidents involved extrajudicial killings in the course of police anti-drug operations", said Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.

"There are many massacres now, in all parts of Asia ... and I'm the one you want to hit", Duterte said.

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