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Duterte maintains no more helicopter deal with Canada

Duterte said he would just look for another supplier of helicopters. AP

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte maintained the administration will not push through with the $233-million agreement to purchase 16 helicopters from Canada.

Duterte said four of the 16 helicopters would have been used to upgrade the presidential fleet but he wanted the government to prioritize the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Duterte last Friday ordered the cancellation of the $233-million helicopter deal with Canada after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government ordered a review over human rights concerns.

Duterte said he would just look for another supplier of helicopters.

The Department of National Defense (DND) issued an official notice of termination to the Canadian defense supplier.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana signed the termination notice informing the Canadian Commercial Corp. (CCC) on the decision to terminate the helicopter deal.

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“This is in compliance with the directive of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, and pursuant to the Government Procurement Law (RA 9184) which authorizes contract termination for the convenience of the government,” defense spokesman Arsenio Andolong said.

The termination was precipitated by the review ordered by the Canadian government on the implementation of the contract agreement to purchase the helicopters.

Andolong said the DND is eyeing China, Russia and South Korea as probable helicopter suppliers.

Canada had raised concerns that the helicopters would be used to fight rebels, but the AFP said they would be used for internal security operations apart from deployment in search-and-rescue and disaster relief missions.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque asserted that the Bell helicopters would be used to transport personnel and relief supplies during calamities as well as ferry wounded soldiers.

Duterte slammed the Canadian government for assuming that he will use the helicopters against groups critical of his administration.

The Bell 412EPI helicopters were due for delivery early next year even as the AFP prepared to step up operations against Islamist militants and communist rebels.– With Jaime Laude

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