Letter to cancel helicopter deal being prepared - Lorenzana

PH looks to Russia, China for new choppers after dispute with Canada

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered last Friday the scrapping of a 233 million-U.S. dollar helicopter deal after the Canadian government chose to review the deal due to concerns the Philippine armed forces might use the utility helicopters in counter-insurgency operations. While it is no doubt challenging to forecast the extent of public outcry ahead of time, it was Manila's vague characterization of the helicopters' use for "internal security operations" that produced the initial controversy, and only after opposition began surfacing did we see important clarifications about how exactly the helicopters would be used that were not included in initial characterizations. But it would have been more useful had this been said before the outcry had resulted rather than after. First, This is just a repeat order.

"(Canada government) said they will only sell (the helicopters) but only for evacuation and emergency.

"I hope that we will never be called upon to use arms in their defense or for them".

"The AFP deal for the acquisition of the Canadian Bell 412 as a combat utility helicopter is a very transparent one".

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana Monday said that the formal letter cancelling the contract of the planned acquisition of the 16 Canadian Bell 412 helicopters worth $233 million or (P11.65 billion) is now being prepared and is expected to be signed this week.

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Trudeau said Canada was committed to ensure any military equipment sold is "used for the right things and not the wrong things".

Bern Jagunos of the International Coalition on Human Rights in the Philippines wrote to Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland following reports that air strikes during operations against communist rebels had razed a forest and destroyed farms tilled by indigenous people in the town of Malibcong, Abra. "Why do they (Canada) raise that issue now?" asked Lorenzana, adding that the 16 Bell helicopters the Philippine military is buying are not attack helicopters "but a medium lift".

"Are there other suppliers if the Canada deal will not push through?"

Lorenzana said that Russia, China, South Korea, Turkey and India could be the new sources for helicopters with similar capabilities of the Bell 412 EPI helicopters.

"While the combat utility helicopters being purchased are primarily for the goal of transporting personnel and supplies, the DND said it believes that it does not owe the Canadian government any justification for an outright purchase of equipment from a privately-owned company".

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