OTTAWA — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says he is cancelling his country’s plans to buy 16 military helicopters from Canada now that the Trudeau government is reviewing the deal over human-rights concerns.
While Duterte says he respects Canada’s position, he also opposes any condition that would restrict using the helicopters in fighting terrorists and communist rebels inside his country.
The helicopter deal is worth an estimated $300 million and was quietly facilitated by Canadian Commercial Corp., a Crown corporation whose role includes selling Canadian-made military equipment to foreign governments.
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.
But a senior officer in the Philippines military, which has been accused of committing human-rights abuses in its war with local terrorists and rebels, admitted they would be used for internal security operations.
International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, who ordered the deal’s review, says Duterte’s comments underline the confusion and contradictions that have surrounded the deal.
The Canadian Press