Duterte Orders Bell Helicopter Deal Cancellation After Canada Raises Human Rights Issue

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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".

"I am directing the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) not to buy anymore (military equipment) from Canada or from the United States because there is always a condition attached", Duterte said in a news conference in Davao City.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, asked later whether he was concerned the helicopters might be used against Filipino citizens, replied "Absolutely".

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.

Bell Helicopter signed a deal at the Singapore Air Show Feb. 6 for 16 412EPIs.

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 deal represents another win for the Canadian defence industry when it comes to the Southeast Asian nation; Canada also sold eight Bell helicopters made in Montreal to the Philippines armed forces in 2015.

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Trudeau said in November he had spoken to Duterte about "human rights, the rule of law, and specifically extrajudicial killings".

He also directed the military not to buy arms anymore "from Canada or from the U.S. because there is always a condition attached".

"We are going to make sure before this deal or any other deal goes through that we are abiding by the rules ... that Canadian governments have to follow", he said. The Associated Press reported the defense secretary did say the country was not afraid to look elsewhere for sellers, should the deal with Canada fall through.

"They are not attack or close support aircraft", he said.

Trudeau, who raised human rights concerns to President Rodrigo Duterte past year, replied: "Absolutely".

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.