Drop Canada chopper deal, Duterte orders AFP

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PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte (right) with Canada's leader Justin Trudeau during the ASEAN summit Manila hosted last year.

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte on Friday said he wants the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to cut its US$233 million contract to purchase 16 helicopters from Canada.

Duterte made this announcement in a press briefing in Davao City following reports that the Canadian government wanted to review the contract after supposedly learning that the aircraft would be used for operations against rebel forces.

“I want to tell the Armed Forces to cut the deal. ‘Wag na ituloy (do not continue) and somehow we will look for another supplier,” Duterte said, adding that he respects the decision of Canada.

Duterte said he wanted to discontinue the deal because Canada “always had a condition attached”.

AFP Deputy Chief-of-Staff for Plans, Major Gen. Restituto Padilla, earlier said the Bell Helicopter and Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) are aware that the military will be using the 16 Bell 412 choppers under contract as a “combat utility helicopter”.

Contingencies

Padilla added that the intended use of the 16 helicopters is both for peacetime and contingencies such as natural disasters and other emergencies.

“Its intended use as combat utility helicopter is for the transport of troops, especially combat casualties and for troop sustainment. It is not an offensive platform and not armed as such. We have dedicated attack helicopters as offensive platforms for such operations,” Padilla said.

Since the Philippines lies in the path of the Pacific Rim of Fire, a disaster-prone area, Padilla said the nation’s disaster response plan had tasked the AFP to take the lead in undertaking humanitarian assistance and disaster response during such times of contingencies.

The Department of National Defense (DND) signed the deal for the purchase of helicopters on Dec. 29, 2017.

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