Duterte orders military to cancel helicopter deal with Canada

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Friday, February 9, ordered the military to withdraw the plan to purchase 16 Bell helicopters worth $233 million from Canada as he admitted that the helicopters and other military equipment would be used for counter-insurgency assaults.

"(Canada government) said they will only sell (the helicopters) but only for evacuation and emergency. We cannot use it for anti-insurgency because if it is used against the Filipino rebels, they will not sell it," he said.

"Now, I am directing the Armed Forces of the Philippines, since most of the guns, bullets and whatever weapons of war, we will really use those against them," he added.

Duterte made the pronouncement in a press conference in Davao City. 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.

The President said he respects Canada's position and stressed that the Philippines would just scout for another supplier.

"We respect the stand of Canada," he said. "I want to tell the Armed Forces to cut the deal. Do not push it through and somehow, we will look for another supplier."

The Canadian government had decided to undertake a review of the agreement to sell 16 helicopters to the Philippines after speculations were raised that these would be used for counter-insurgency assaults.

Armed groups, including the communist rebels, continue to threaten the country's security, especially in Mindanao, where martial law has been extended until end-December 2018. (SunStar Philippines)
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