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Philippines says Canada helicopters 'not for attack'

12 February, 2018, 01:35 | Author: Kristen Ingram
  • Armed Forces of the Philippines Spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also raised concerns about extrajudicial killings while visiting the country in November, specifically those related to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's violent crackdown on illegal drugs.

Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has said the helicopters will only be used for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts.

Duterte ordered to scrap the 233-million-dollar deal after Canada ordered a review of the deal and expressed concern the helicopters might be used to fight the rebels. "And we want the government to look into that to see if the helicopters are indeed being used in combat that are harming and killing civilians".

Earlier, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque had said the helicopters will be used for humanitarian operations, although he kept silent on other uses for the new military hardware. "And we will obviously review the facts and take the right decision", Champagne told reporters, without giving more details.

"We are going to make sure before this deal or any other deal goes through that we are abiding by the rules ... that Canadian governments have to follow", he said.

Philippine troops and police, beset by Islamist and communist insurgencies, fought a five-month battle past year against Islamic State group supporters in the southern city of Marawi.

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.

The military stressed they were "utility helicopters, not attack helicopters".

Philippine troops are battling militants in the Muslim south and communist guerillas in other parts of the mainly Catholic country.

He said if he can not use the equipment against locals "contaminated" by ISIS, he might as well "surrender the government" to them.

Human rights groups have raised concerns over the proposed sale to the Philippines.

Duterte, who has overseen a crackdown that is said to have left almost 4,000 drug suspects dead, described Trudeau's comments as "a personal and official insult". "People just don't understand", said Duterte.

The Philippine government says police have only shot suspects in self-defence and rejects human rights groups' claims the crackdown is a crime against humanity.

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