Duterte orders military to cancel helicopter deal with Canada

Champagne orders review of controversial helicopter deal with the Philippines

Bell Helicopter said in an announcement of the deal that the aircraft were intended "for a variety of missions such as disaster relief, search and rescue, passenger transport and utility transport".

The Canadian government is not OK with the helicopters being used for those "internal security operations", however.

"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.

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.

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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.

"If they don't want to sell, we may consider the prospect of procuring them from other sources", Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. said on Thursday.

But then Reuters reported that Philippine Major-General Restituto Padilla, military chief of plans, told the publication the helicopters would be used for the military's internal security operations and possibly the missions Bell mentioned.

"I want to tell the armed forces to cut the deal, don't proceed anymore and somehow we will look for another supplier".

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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.

"I assure you, I am supporting Trump".

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.

Philippine troops and police, beset by Islamist and communist insurgencies, fought a five-month battle past year against Islamic State group supporters in the southern city of Marawi. "He is doing it also for his country, people just don't understand him".

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Trudeau said in November he had spoken to Duterte about "human rights, the rule of law, and specifically extrajudicial killings". The Canadian leader was praised by human rights groups for raising the concerns, but Duterte said he was insulted and angered by the remarks. "We are neutral", Duterte said, without making clear if he was referring to Canada or the USA, his country's treaty ally, or both.

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