Published: Sat, February 10, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Champagne orders review of controversial helicopter deal with the Philippines

Champagne orders review of controversial helicopter deal with the Philippines

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 Champagne says he ordered a review following comments from a senior member of the Philippine military that the Montreal-made aircraft (made by Bell Helicopter) would be used for internal security operations.

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.

Known for his impromptu decisions and public outbursts, Duterte declared in a nationally televised news conference in southern Davao city, his hometown, that he wants the helicopter deal, along with purchases of unspecified USA weapons, halted.

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"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.

"I hope that we will never be called upon to use arms in their defense or for them. We can not use it for anti-insurgency because if it is used against the Filipino rebels, they will not sell it", he said.

Duterte did not elaborate on why he wants purchases of USA arms to be stopped.

"U.S., because of its too much imposition, but I assure you, I am supporting Trump", Duterte said.

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Duterte's friendly attitude toward Trump contrasts with his disdain for former U.S. President Barack Obama, who raised concerns about Duterte's anti-drug campaign.

According to the Philippine defence department, the deal was signed with trade promotion outfit Canadian Commercial Corp last December, shortly after Trudeau clashed with Duterte during a Manila visit over alleged Philippine police murders of thousands of drug suspects.

Duterte, who has overseen a crackdown that has left almost 4,000 drug suspects dead at the hands of the police, later described Trudeau's comments as "a personal and official insult", adding he would only answer to his Filipino electorate.

Human-rights and arms-control groups have accused the Philippine armed forces of extrajudicial killings and other atrocities in their fight against Islamic militants and communist rebels.

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