Despite Trudeau's human rights concern, Canada sells weapons to Philippines

Despite Trudeau's human rights concern, Canada sells weapons to Philippines

Despite Trudeau's human rights concern, Canada sells weapons to Philippines

The Philippine military yesterday denied it planned to use 16 Bell helicopters bought from Canada as attack aircraft against local insurgents, following reports Ottawa was reviewing the deal.

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

"They must not politicise the acquisition", said Major-General Restituto Padilla, the deputy chief of staff for plans and programmes of the Philippine armed forces.

He also directed the military not to buy arms anymore "from Canada or from the USA because there is always a condition attached".

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Asked to expound on a military official's statement that the choppers will be used for "internal security operations", Roque said they can always considering purchasing from other sellers. "The reason I'm buying helicopters is because I want to finish them off".

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

"The prime minister and I have been very clear about the Duterte regime's human rights abuses and the extrajudicial killings", she told parliament.

"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.

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"If they don't want to sell, we may consider the prospect of procuring them from other sources", Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. said on Thursday.

"The fact that Canadian equipment is making its way to the Philippine military raises serious questions about the effectiveness of Canada's exports controls-and about potential Canadian complicity, however unintended, in instances of human rights violation".

Rights groups like Amnesty International have said the Philippine government's anti-drug campaign is causing a human rights crisis.

Duterte, who has been critical of USA security policies and has lashed out at Washington for criticizing his deadly crackdown on illegal drugs, did not elaborate on why he wants purchases of unspecified US arms to be stopped.

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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.

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