Canada orders evaluation of helicopter sale to Philippines

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Although he said he respects Canada's stand, Duterte said using the helicopters just to ferry troops and dead soldiers is "a insane proposition".

Asked to expound on a military official's statement that the choppers will be used for "internal security operations", Roque said they can always considering purchasing from other sellers.

"I want to tell the Armed Forces to cut the deal".

"When we saw that declaration ... we immediately launched a review with the relevant authorities". Human rights groups accuse police of carrying out illegal killings, staging crime scenes and falsifying reports, a charge they deny.

Duterte, however, reasoned the equipment would "invariably" be used against rebels and terrorists. "We are neutral", Duterte said, without making clear if he was referring to Canada or the USA, his country's treaty ally, or both.

Mr Trudeau told journalists that he spoke with the Mr Duterte about concerns related to extrajudicial killings linked to the president's war on drugs.

Neither the Canadian Commercial Corporation nor Global Affairs Canada responded to questions about whether the government conducted a human-rights assessment before approving the most recent helicopter sale.

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.

The Philippines employs attack helicopters and planes to support ground troops battling militants in the Muslim south, as well as against communist guerrillas in other parts of the mainly Catholic Asian nation. They would be used in disaster relief efforts.

The Philippine defence department acquired eight of the same Bell aircraft model in 2015, which it said went mostly to an air force unit assigned with providing air transport for the Philippine president.

News of the sale caused some in Canada to raise concerns over Duterte's human rights record.

"These will be used to transport personnel, supplies, humanitarian missions, ferrying of wounded and injured soldiers, and other forms of humanitarian assistance and disaster response", Roque, the Duterte spokesman, said.

The Canadian PM said Duterte has been receptive to comments regarding his government's crackdown on drug dealers that had claimed several lives.

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