Duterte orders military to cancel helicopter deal with Canada

Champagne orders review of controversial helicopter deal with the Philippines

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.

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 Philippine defence chief said Thursday that the military won't use 16 helicopters being bought from Canada to attack insurgents as feared by Canadian officials, who ordered a review of the multimillion-dollar deal.

"I want to tell the armed forces to cut the deal, don't proceed with it and somehow we will look for another supplier", Duterte said of the helicopter purchase.

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"These are multi-purpose aircraft for anti-terrorism as well as HADR", he said, using military lingo that refers to disaster response and humanitarian missions. "We respect the stand of Canada", he said during a media briefing Friday morning. "Or from the United States, because there is always a condition attached".

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 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.

"(Canada government) said they will only sell (the helicopters) but only for evacuation and emergency.

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Opposition parties and human-rights groups have called for the cancellation of the sale of light-armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia over concerns they would be misused.

But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also raised concerns about extrajudicial killings while visiting the country in November, specifically those related to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's violent crackdown on illegal drugs.

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

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