Philippines president orders cancelation of $233mn helicopter deal with Canada


President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday ordered the cancellation of a $233-million chopper deal with Canada after several Canadian politicians questioned why Ottawa allowed the purchase despite reported human rights violations in the country under the tough-talking Filipino leader.

This was in line with President Rodrigo Duterte's armed forces modernization program.

"We respect the stand of Canada", Duterte said in a news conference in Davao City.

"When we saw that declaration... we immediately launched a review with the relevant authorities".

"I'm buying helicopters because I want to finish them off", said Duterte, referring to Muslim and communist rebels along with Islamic militants in the country's volatile south.

He added that the Canadian government will make sure any deal entered into by the their government are "abiding by the rules and expectations that are not just values, but actual rules that the Canadian government has to follow".

Almost 4,000 Filipinos have been killed by police in the campaign since June 2016.

"Human rights is a key element of our foreign policy and of our trade policy", said Champagne.

The Liberal government has previously been criticized for approving arms exports to countries with questionable human-rights records, most notably the massive deal for light armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia.

"If they don't want to sell, well, we may consider the prospect of procuring them from other sources", presidential spokesman Harry Roque told reporters Thursday.

Sunjwan attack: Third militant killed, death toll reaches 5
In the initial attack, Subedar Madan Lal Chowdhry, his daughter, Neha, and Lance Naik Bahadur Singh were injured. The fidayeen entered the camp from its rear side and started firing indiscriminately.

"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.

"Do not proceed any more, and somehow we will look for another supplier", he said of the deal for 16 Bell 412 EPI utility helicopters announced by the two governments this week.

The Bell H-13 Sioux, a variant of the Bell 47, was the first helicopter to enter into service with the Philippine Air Force in 1955, Bell said. They would be used in disaster relief efforts.

"We have separate and dedicated attack helicopters".

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

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".

Human rights groups have raised concerns over the proposed sale to the Philippines.

Almost 4,000 mostly poor drug suspects have been killed in clashes with police, according to police officials, who say the suspects resisted violently.

The Philippine government says police have only shot suspects in self-defence and rejects human rights groups' claims the crackdown is a crime against humanity.