Duterte terminates Canada chopper deal

Minister of International Trade Francois Philippe Champagne announced Wednesday that he had ordered a review of the helicopter deal after a senior member of the Philippine military said the aircraft would also be used in “internal security operations

Phillippines President Rodrigo Duterte says he wants to cancel the $233-million deal to buy 16 helicopters from Canada, just days after Ottawa ordered a review of the sale.

"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.

Cesar Jaramillo of arms-control group Project Ploughshares, said Canada has already supported the military of a known human-rights abuser through the multibillion-dollar sale of armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia.

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".

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. You will never get it for as long as I am president.

Duterte said that he can not guarantee that the helicopters will not be used in combat operations in the future.

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Duterte, who has been critical of USA security policies and has lashed out at Washington for criticizing his deadly crackdown on illegal drugs, did not elaborate on why he wants purchases of unspecified US arms to be stopped.

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. He is a good president. "And we will obviously review the facts and take the right decision", Champagne told reporters according to another Reuters report. He is doing it also for his country.

Mr Trudeau told journalists that he spoke with the Mr Duterte about concerns related to extrajudicial killings linked to the president's war on drugs.

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

The Canadian PM said Duterte has been receptive to comments regarding his government's crackdown on drug dealers that had claimed several lives.

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