PH gov't to seek other sellers if Canada refuses chopper deal

16 more Bell 412 EPI combat utility helicopters joining the Philippine Air Force fleet

Champagne orders review of controversial helicopter deal with the Philippines

President Rodrigo Duterte's order, issued in a news conference, came after the Canadian government chose to review the 12 billion peso ($235 million) helicopter deal due to concerns the Philippine military might use the utility helicopters in counterinsurgency assaults.

"I want to tell the Armed Forces to cut the deal".

Although he said he respects Canada's stand, Duterte said using the helicopters just to ferry troops and dead soldiers is "a insane proposition".

The prime minister said Canada has clear rules and controls around the sale of arms and "potential military vehicles like helicopters" to foreign countries.

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.

The 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.

"I'm buying helicopters because I want to finish them off", said Duterte, referring to Muslim and communist rebels along with Islamic militants in the country's volatile south.

They accuse President Rodrigo Duterte of human rights abuses and carrying out unlawful killings amid his anti-drug campaign.

Filipino officials have said the country would buy the aircraft from another source if Canada did not follow through on the deal.

NDP foreign affairs critic Helene Laverdiere has added her voice to the chorus of concern, writing on Twitter: "How can Trudeau justify this deal with the Philippines when Duterte's government has plunged the country into a bad human rights crisis?"

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

Trudeau, who raised human rights concerns to President Rodrigo Duterte a year ago, replied: "Absolutely". It became an issue of human rights, as Canada is afraid the 412s would be used against Filipino citizens.

Amnesty International Canada asked whether a human rights assessment was conducted for the Philippines deal, and if any provisions are in place to ensure the helicopters are used properly.

Thousands of people have allegedly been killed since July 2016 in the crackdown on drug dealers and users.

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