Duterte cancels helicopter deal with Canada, orders military to shop elsewhere

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, during a talk at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, said that the Canadian government is "in the process of looking" into the deal.

"They must not politicise the acquisition", said Major-General Restituto Padilla, the deputy chief of staff for plans and programmes of the Philippine armed forces.

Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana tried to reassure officials that the helicopters wouldn't be used to attack rebels.

Ottawa said Thursday that the deal was under review due to concerns over the human rights record of Duterte, the subject of a complaint in the International Criminal Court over the alleged "mass murder" of thousands of Filipino drug suspects.

Cesar Jaramillo of arms-control group Project Ploughshares, said Canada has already supported the military of a known human-rights abuser through the multibillion-dollar sale of armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia. He said they would review the facts and take the "right decision".

According to Canada's Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, the said deal struck in 2012 agreed that the helicopters would be used for search-and-rescue missions. "We can not use it for anti-insurgency because if it is used against the Filipino rebels, they will not sell it", he said.

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President Rodrigo Duterte's order, issued in a news conference, came after the Canadian government chose to review the 12 billion peso ($235 million) helicopter deal due to concerns the Philippine military might use the utility helicopters in counterinsurgency assaults.

"The reason I'm buying helicopters is because I want to finish them off", Duterte added. "We are neutral", Duterte said, without making clear if he was referring to Canada or the USA, his country's treaty ally, or both.

The two governments announced the deal less than three months after Duterte and Trudeau clashed.

Trudeau, who raised human rights concerns to President Rodrigo Duterte previous year, replied: "Absolutely". "It is a personal and official insult".

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.