Published: Sun, February 11, 2018
Global Media | By Derrick Guzman

Philippines says Canada helicopters 'not for attack'

Philippines says Canada helicopters 'not for attack'

Malacañang was prompt to answer that the Philippine government will consider buying from other sellers of military helicopters in case the Canadian government decides to retract from the $233.36 million deal.

"I want to tell the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) to cut the deal".

"I'm buying helicopters because I want to finish them off", said Duterte, referring to Muslim and communist rebels along with Islamic militants in the country's volatile south.

The government initially defended the deal, saying the helicopters would only be used for disaster relief and search-and-rescue missions, and that the sale would support upwards of 1,000 jobs in the Montreal area.

Mr Lorenzana said on Thursday that the helicopters will be used in a "limited" role primarily "for the transportation of personnel and supplies, ferrying wounded and injured soldiers, and the conduct of humanitarian and assistance and disaster response (HADR) operations".

"Now, I am directing the Armed Forces of the Philippines, since most of the guns, bullets and whatever weapons of war, we will really use those against them", he added.

"We are going to make sure before this deal or any other deal goes through that we are abiding by the rules ... that Canadian governments have to follow", he said.

International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, who ordered the deal's review, says Duterte's comments underline the confusion and contradictions that have surrounded the deal.

Thousands of people have allegedly been killed since July 2016 in the crackdown on drug dealers and users.

The Bell Helicopter said the 16 Bell 412EPI helicopters, fully configured and equipped with advanced features, are being acquired as part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) modernization plans, and were purchased by the Philippine defense department through a government-to-government contract with the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC). "Do not push it through and somehow, we will look for another supplier". The country is also regularly battered by typhoons.

Trudeau, who raised human rights concerns to President Rodrigo Duterte past year, replied: "Absolutely". The Canadian leader was praised by human rights groups for raising the concerns, but Duterte said he was insulted and angered by the remarks.

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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