Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte Rodrigo Duterte gestures during a news conference on the sidelines of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Pasay, metro Manila, Philippines, November 14, 2017. REUTERS/Dondi Tawatao
The Philippine president has ordered the cancellation of a deal to buy 16 helicopters from Canada and says purchases of U.S. arms should also be stopped because of too many imposed conditions, although he says he still supports U.S. President Donald Trump.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s order, issued in a news conference Friday, came after the Canadian government decided to review the $300-million helicopter deal because of concerns the Philippine military might use the utility helicopters in counterinsurgency assaults.
Duterte says, “I want to tell the armed forces to cut the deal, don’t proceed with it and somehow we will look for another supplier.”
The Canadian government initially defended the deal, saying the helicopters would only be used for disaster relief and search-and-rescue missions, and that the sale would support upwards of 1,000 jobs in the Montreal area.
But a senior officer in the Philippines military, which has been accused of committing human-rights abuses in its war with local terrorists and rebels, admitted they would be used for internal security operations.
International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, who ordered the deal’s review, says Duterte’s comments underline the confusion and contradictions that have surrounded the deal.
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