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Sale of Canadian helicopters to Philippine military prompts human-rights concerns
12 February 2018, 01:37 | Myrtle Vega
Champagne orders review of controversial helicopter deal with the Philippines
Bell Helicopter said in an announcement of the deal that the aircraft were intended "for a variety of missions such as disaster relief, search and rescue, passenger transport and utility transport".
Though Canada has sold weapons to Philippines, the relationship between Trudeau and his counterpart Rodrigo Duterte was not all well in 2017.
Canada announced an official review of the deal, to make sure the helicopters would not be used for counterinsurgency operations.
Canada's International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne earlier said the deal formally signed Tuesday had been struck in 2012 on the understanding the helicopters would be used for search-and-rescue missions. I want to tell the armed forces to cut the deal. and somehow we will look for another supplier.
Filipino officials have said the country would buy the aircraft from another source if Canada did not follow through on the deal.
However, Manila said they would also be used for "anti-terrorism" operations, including to evacuate soldiers wounded while fighting insurgents. "And we will obviously review the facts and take the right decision", Champagne told reporters according to another Reuters report.
Human-rights and arms-control groups have accused the Philippine armed forces of extrajudicial killings and other atrocities in their fight against Islamic militants and communist rebels.
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Trudeau, who raised human rights concerns to President Rodrigo Duterte past year, replied: "Absolutely".
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.
"Not at all. They are purely for utility purposes - ergo, transport purposes especially during HADR operations", he said, using a military term for disaster response.
Human rights groups have raised concerns over the proposed sale to the Philippines.
Duterte, who has overseen a crackdown that has left almost 4,000 drug suspects dead at the hands of the police, later described Trudeau's comments as "a personal and official insult", adding he would only answer to his Filipino electorate.
Duterte said past investigations failed to turn up evidence that he ordered extrajudicial killings of specific people, although he acknowledged he has threatened to kill those who destroy his country's youth.
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