Sale of Canadian helicopters to Philippine military prompts human-rights concerns

10 February, 2018, 02:55 | Author: Essie Rivera
  • Philippine soldiers prepare to board a helicopter amid fighting near Marawi City in June 2017. The country's defence chief said the 16 helicopters it plans to buy from Canada will not be used for internal attacks

The President issued the decision after Canada chose to review the $233-million helicopter deal over concerns the aircraft will be used for anti-insurgency operations.

"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. 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. The Philippine Department of National Defense (DND) signed a purchase agreement to get the helicopters for the air force.

Duterte said that he can not guarantee that the helicopters will not be used in combat operations in the future. "We can not use it for anti-insurgency because if it is used against the Filipino rebels, they will not sell it", he said.

His remark came after the Canadian government ordered Wednesday, February 7, to review the helicopter deal amid concerns that the aircraft could be used against local insurgents.

Duterte said while he did not question Canada's logic, his logic was based on "reality on the ground". "And we will obviously review the facts and take the right decision", Champagne told reporters, without giving more details.

SOUTHCHINASEA-CHINA  PHILIPPINES
Canada sells 16 helicopters to Philippines after drug war row

But 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.

"I assure you, I am supporting Trump. He is doing it also for his country, people just don't understand him".

But Trudeau's comment was not well accepted by Duterte. Human rights groups have reported much higher death tolls and accused law enforcers of carrying out extrajudicial killings and of setting up crime scenes to make the victims appear to have fought back.

During Trudeau's official visit in the Philippines previous year for the 31st Association of South East Nations, he said that he "impressed upon" Duterte the need to respect the rule of law to combat illegal drugs.

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