Canada orders evaluation of helicopter sale to Philippines

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte before the opening ceremony of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Manila last November. The Philippines signed a deal with Canada on Tuesd

However, the defense minister later clarified that the Bell 412EPI helicopters were mainly for transport, rescue and disaster response.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte salutes customs police as he arrives to witness the destruction of a fleet of 20 used luxury cars and SUVs as part of the 116th anniversary celebration of the Bureau of Customs in Manila, Philippines Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018.

"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.

Ottawa said on Thursday that the deal was under review due to concerns about the human rights record of Duterte, the subject of a complaint being considered by the International Criminal Court over the alleged "mass murder" of thousands of Filipino drug suspects.

The Crown corporation would not reveal any other details about the deal, citing commercial confidentiality, but media reports say the Philippines government had set aside almost $300 million for the purchase.

"We have very clear rules around who and what we can sell either arms of potential military vehicles like helicopters and controls-on what they intend to be used for and checks in how they are used", Trudeau said. "We are neutral", Duterte said, without making clear if he was referring to Canada or the USA, his country's treaty ally, or both.

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"We can not use it for anti-insurgency because if it is used against the Filipino rebels, they will not sell it", he said. "And we will obviously review the facts and take the right decision", Champagne told reporters, without giving more details.

Trudeau, who raised human rights concerns to President Rodrigo Duterte a year ago, replied: "Absolutely".

The Bell H-13 Sioux, a variant of the Bell 47, was the first helicopter to enter into service with the Philippine Air Force in 1955, Bell said.

Trudeau said in November he had spoken to Duterte about "human rights, the rule of law, and specifically extrajudicial killings".

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.

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".

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