Published: Sat, February 10, 2018

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

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

MANILA-The Philippine president has ordered the cancellation of a deal to buy 16 helicopters from Canada and says purchases of U.S. arms should also be stopped because of too many imposed conditions, although he says he still supports U.S. President Donald Trump.

The helicopter deal is worth an estimated $300 million and was quietly facilitated by Canadian Commercial Corp., a Crown corporation whose role includes selling Canadian-made military equipment to foreign governments.

"I want to tell the armed forces to cut the deal, don't proceed with it and somehow we will look for another supplier", Duterte said of the helicopter purchase.

Duterte did not elaborate on why he wants purchases of USA arms to be stopped.

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

Canada has very clear regulations about to whom it can sell weapons and how they can be used, he said during a question and answer event at the University of Chicago.

"The president's troubling comments only underscores the confusion and contradictions that have emerged recently on the intended end use of the helicopters", International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said in a statement.

But the Philippine government never hide its intention to use Canadian-built helicopters in military operations, even going as far as displaying the first batch of those choppers armed with machineguns during an official ceremony in 2015 attended by Canada's ambassador to that southeast Asian country.

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

"These (helicopters) are a real benefit to Filipinos", Canadian ambassador John Holmes said on the mission's Facebook page, adding it would boost Manila's "search and rescue and disaster relief capabilities".

"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.

In 2017, Villanueva said the Army filled its 2017 recruitment quota of about 350 new officers and 13,000 new enlisted personnel, including 1,000 slots allotted to indigenous peoples.

The Philippines military has been accused of extrajudicial killings, torture and other rights abuses during its separate conflicts with Islamic State-linked terrorists and communist rebels.

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

Almost 4,000 mostly poor drug suspects have been killed in clashes with police, according to police officials, who say the suspects resisted violently.

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