Champagne orders review of controversial helicopter deal with the Philippines

Champagne orders review of controversial helicopter deal with the Philippines

Gen. Restituto Padilla, chief of plans at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), said the helicopters would be used for internal security operations apart from deployment in search-and-rescue and disaster relief missions.

Last year, the Canada-based International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines wrote to Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland asking whether the Canadian helicopters sold in 2015 had been used for such purposes.

"The fact that Canadian equipment is making its way to the Philippine military raises serious questions about the effectiveness of Canada's exports controls-and about potential Canadian complicity, however unintended, in instances of human rights violation".

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte today abruptly cancelled a US$235 million contract to buy 16 helicopters from Canada after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government ordered a review over human rights concerns.

Mr Lorenzana said on Thursday that the helicopters will be used in a "limited" role primarily "for the transportation of personnel and supplies, ferrying wounded and injured soldiers, and the conduct of humanitarian and assistance and disaster response (HADR) operations". "Or from the United States, because there is always a condition attached". "We respect the stand of Canada", Duterte said in a news conference in Davao City.

Canada announced an official review of the deal, to make sure the helicopters would not be used for counterinsurgency operations.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government made a decision to undertake a review of the 12 billion peso ($235 million) deal, which was announced this week, due to concerns the Philippine military may use the helicopters in counterinsurgency assaults, according to news reports.

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.

In November, Mr Trudeau raised the issue of human rights - and the ire of Mr Duterte - while in the Philippines for the Asean summit. "It is a personal and official insult".

Reacting to Trudeau's comment, Duterte said: "I said, 'I will not explain".

Thousands of people have allegedly been killed since July 2016 in the crackdown on drug dealers and users.

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