Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte cancelled a $233 Million deal to purchase 16 helicopters from Canada after the administration of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said they would have to review the terms of the contract after concerns of its use were raised by International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne.
Duterte made the announcement during a media news conference where he vented his frustration over Canada:
“I am sure Canada is a bright boy. But the terrorists, ISIS are contaminating the locals. And if I cannot use the gunships, the helicopters then I might as well surrender this government to them. I do not question your logic. Your logic is your logic. My logic is mine. It’s based on the reality on the ground. So henceforth, this is a direct order to the commander in chief of the armed forces and the police.”
Initially, the Philippine government said the Bell helicopters would be used to conduct search and rescue missions and disaster relief operations. The deal was expected to support an estimated 1,000 jobs in Montreal.
But Champagne ordered the review after a senior member of the Philippine military disclosed that the helicopters would be used for “internal security operations”:
“President Duterte’s troubling comments only underscores the confusion and contradictions that have emerged recently on the intended end use of the helicopters. That is precisely why I ordered a review and that the process will continue.”
President Duterte’s government has been accused of committing extra-judicial killings, torture and human rights abuses in support of his “War on Drugs” and conflicts with Islamic State-linked terrorists and communist rebels.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) announced it would begin a preliminary inquiry into the alleged crimes committed by the Duterte government.
The helicopter deal with the Philippines was facilitated by Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) a Crown corporation which functions as an intermediary for the Ottawa government to sell weapons made in Canada to foreign countries.
The public knew of the arrangement only after it was disclosed by the Philippine military which sparked outrage among civil rights groups who were aware of Duterte’s poor human rights record.
The New Democratic Party (NDP) questioned the deal as well as the CCC’s procedure for assessing the potential risk of rights abuses by selling weapons to countries with questionable human rights records.