Champagne orders review of controversial helicopter deal with the Philippines
11 February, 2018, 05:38 | Author: Lucy Floyd
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.
The Canadian government is not OK with the helicopters being used for those "internal security operations", however.
He said while he respects Canada's stand, he no longer wants to purchase military equipment from Canada or the United States because "there is always a condition attached".
But those claims were undercut by Philippines Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla, military chief of plans, who told journalists in Manila the aircraft "will be used for the military's internal security operations".
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.
"The president's troubling comments only underscore the confusion and contradictions that have emerged recently on the intended end use of the helicopters", said a spokesperson for Champagne on Friday.
"I hope that we will never be called upon to use arms in their defence or for them".
"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. The Associated Press reported the defense secretary did say the country was not afraid to look elsewhere for sellers, should the deal with Canada fall through.
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The Crown corporation would not reveal any other details about the deal, citing commercial confidentiality, but media reports say the Philippines government had set aside almost $300 million for the purchase.
But human rights advocates expressed disbelief that Canada was selling the aircraft to the Philippines considering the country's poor human rights record and its controversial leader Duterte.
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.
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.
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