Monday, 19 February, 2018

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

16 more Bell 412 EPI combat utility helicopters joining the Philippine Air Force fleet Champagne orders review of controversial helicopter deal with the Philippines
| 11 February, 2018, 05:35

They say there is evidence the Philippine military has been committing human-rights abuses while fighting Islamist militants on the southern island of Mindanao and in a war against communist rebels in other parts of the country.

Known for his impromptu decisions and public outbursts, the Philippine president declared in a nationally televised news conference that he wants the helicopter deal, and purchases of unspecified USA weapons, halted.

The Philippine defense minister later clarified that the Bell 412EPI helicopters were mainly for transport, rescue and disaster response.

Earlier, Canada ordered a review of the deal and expressed concern the helicopters might be used to fight rebels and drug smugglers. I want to tell the armed forces to cut the deal. and somehow we will look for another supplier.

But Duterte said on Friday he did not blame the United States and that he remains a staunch supporter of its president, Donald Trump, whom he said was misunderstood.

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.

"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.


"It angers me when you are a foreigner, you do not know what exactly is happening in this country".

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. He is a good president.

Trudeau was asked American political analyst David Axelrod if he has any "concerns" on selling the Philippine government military choppers that might be used against Filipinos.

Army spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Louie Villanueva explained that "the higher quota is also due to the ongoing activation of 10 additional Army infantry battalions which aims to further strengthen the PA's capability, to be more responsive in addressing the various threats, particularly terrorism, that beset the country".

Trudeau said during the November summit that he called out Duterte over "human rights, the rule of law, and specifically extrajudicial killings".

Duterte, a former city mayor who built a political name with his extra-tough approach to crime, has denied condoning unlawful killings but has openly threatened drug suspects with death and cursed people who criticize his anti-crime methods. "The reason I'm buying helicopters is because I want to finish them off". "You better clear that up because I will withdraw from the ICC".

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