PH gov't to seek other sellers if Canada refuses chopper deal

Minister of International Trade Francois Philippe Champagne announced Wednesday that he had ordered a review of the helicopter deal after a senior member of the Philippine military said the aircraft would also be used in “internal security operations

"Do not push it through and somehow, we will look for another supplier".

International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne is ordering a review of the planned sale of 16 412EPI helicopters to the Philippine military amid concerns about the country's human rights record.

The Filipino military also uses derivations of the Bell-UH-1H helicopter, which first saw service for the United States military in the Vietnam War in the early 1960s.

However, Major-General Restituto Padilla, military chief of plans, in a Reuters report, noted that the helicopters could be of help for search-and-rescue operations for disaster relief operations, but said that "the helicopters will be used for the military's internal security operations".

The Philippines employs attack helicopters and planes to support ground troops battling militants in the south, as well as against communist guerrillas in other parts of the Asian nation.

"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. "We respect the stand of Canada", he said during a media briefing Friday morning.

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The Philippines and Canada formally signed the helicopter deal on Tuesday, but the following day, the Canadian government ordered a review. Do not buy any more from Canada.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said yesterday that an "extremely rigorous human rights review" would be undertaken before any export permit was issued over the helicopter contract, facilitated by the Canadian Commercial Corp.

They accuse President Rodrigo Duterte of human rights abuses and carrying out unlawful killings amid his anti-drug campaign.

"President Duterte's government has achieved global notoriety for its blatant disregard of basic human rights and its systematic threats against human rights activists", Jaramillo said in an email.

Duterte, who has overseen a crackdown that is said to have left almost 4,000 drug suspects dead, described Trudeau's comments as "a personal and official insult".

The Philippine government says police have only shot suspects in self-defence and rejects human rights monitors' description of the crackdown as a crime against humanity.

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