Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered his country’s Ministry of Defence to cancel a deal to buy 16 Helicopters from Bell Canada after Ottawa threatened to hold up export clearance on Manila’s human rights record.
"I am directing the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) not to buy anymore (military equipment) from Canada or from the United States because there is always a condition attached," Duterte said during the course of a press conference in Davao City.
"I want to tell the armed forces to cut the deal, and somehow we will look for another supplier," Duterte said, local media reported. Bell and the Philippine government had signed a deal last month to buy 16 Bell 412 helicopters for $233 million.
Duterte said his country has the right to deploy the helicopters as it wishes."Invariably (these helicopters) will be used against the rebels and terrorists."
Earlier, Canada ordered a review of the deal and expressed concern the helicopters might be used to fight rebels and drug smugglers. But Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana clarified on Thursday that the helicopters made by Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. company, will be used for humanitarian operations.
Bell Helicopter had said earlier tht the 16 Bell 412EPI helicopters are being acquired as part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) modernization plans, and were purchased by the Philippine defense department through a government-to-government contract with the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC).
The helicopters are scheduled to be delivered to the Philippines starting the first quarter of next year.