Published: Mon, February 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Victor Meyer

Duterte Orders Bell Helicopter Deal Cancellation After Canada Raises Human Rights Issue

Duterte Orders Bell Helicopter Deal Cancellation After Canada Raises Human Rights Issue

However, Manila said they would also be used for "anti-terrorism" operations, including to evacuate soldiers wounded while fighting insurgents. "The reason I'm buying helicopters is because I want to finish them off". "We are neutral", Duterte said, without making clear if he was referring to Canada or the USA, his country's treaty ally, or both.

"I am directing the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) not to buy anymore (military equipment) from Canada or from the United States because there is always a condition attached", Duterte said in a news conference in Davao City.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Thursday that an "extremely rigorous human rights review" would be undertaken before any export permit was issued over the helicopter contract.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte had lashed out at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the latter's drug-war comments.

"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.

Neither the Canadian Commercial Corporation nor Global Affairs Canada responded to questions about whether the government conducted a human-rights assessment before approving the most recent helicopter sale.

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"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.

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.

In 2014, the Philippines also bought eight Bell 412 helicopters from Bell Helicopter.

Apart from armed insurgencies, the Philippines is also regularly battered by typhoons.

Trudeau said during the November summit that he called out Duterte over "human rights, the rule of law, and specifically extrajudicial killings". But Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana clarified on Thursday that the helicopters made by Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. company, will be used for humanitarian operations. "People just don't understand", said Duterte.

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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