PH gov't to seek other sellers if Canada refuses chopper deal

11 February, 2018, 05:37 | Author: Bert Pena
  • THE CANADIAN PRESS

A day after the signing ceremony, Canadian Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne reportedly announced plans to review the helicopter deal with the Philippines after learning the aircraft might be used to attack rebels.

"We have very clear rules around who and what we can sell either arms of potential military vehicles like helicopters and controls-on what they intend to be used for and checks in how they are used", Trudeau said. Some military officials reportedly claimed the helicopters would be used for the military's internal security operations as well as search-and-rescue and disaster response operations.

The helicopters, Bell said, were to be used for missions including disaster relief, search and rescue, passenger transport and utility transport.

"(Canada government) said they will only sell (the helicopters) but only for evacuation and emergency.

"I hope that we will never be called upon to use arms in their defense or for them".

But Duterte said on Friday he did not blame the United States and that he remains a staunch supporter of its president, Donald Trump, whom he said was misunderstood.

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Bell and the Philippine government had signed a deal last month to buy 16 Bell 412 helicopters for $233 million.

But human rights advocates expressed disbelief that Canada was selling the aircraft to the Philippines considering the country's poor human rights record and its controversial leader Duterte. The Associated Press reported the defense secretary did say the country was not afraid to look elsewhere for sellers, should the deal with Canada fall through. He is a good president.

"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.

Army spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Louie Villanueva explained that "the higher quota is also due to the ongoing activation of 10 additional Army infantry battalions which aims to further strengthen the PA's capability, to be more responsive in addressing the various threats, particularly terrorism, that beset the country".

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.

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".

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