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

The Bell Helicopter said the 16 Bell 412EPI helicopters, fully configured and equipped with advanced features, are being acquired as part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) modernization plans, and were purchased by the Philippine defense department through a government-to-government contract with the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC).

Canada said it would review the sale, including on human rights grounds, after Philippine Major-General Restituto Padilla told Reuters the helicopters would be used for the military's internal security operations.

His remark came after the Canadian government ordered Wednesday, February 7, to review the helicopter deal amid concerns that the aircraft could be used against local insurgents.

The helicopters are scheduled to be delivered to the Philippines starting the first quarter of next year. Human rights groups have reported much higher death tolls and accused law enforcers of carrying out extrajudicial killings and of setting up crime scenes to make the victims appear to have fought back.

Those include extrajudicial killings, the destruction of homes, unlawful arrests and other alleged violations.

Duterte, however, reasoned the equipment would "invariably" be used against rebels and terrorists.

Bern Jagunos, who wrote the letter on behalf of the coalition, told The Canadian Press on Tuesday that Freeland never responded.

"We are concerned", Jagunos said. "Do not push it through and somehow, we will look for another supplier".

Opposition parties and human-rights groups have called for the cancellation of the sale of light-armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia over concerns they would be misused.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte had lashed out at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the latter's drug-war comments.

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 helicopter deal with the Philippines, he said, represents yet another example.

"(Canada government) said they will only sell (the helicopters) but only for evacuation and emergency.

In November, Mr Trudeau raised the issue of human rights - and the ire of Mr Duterte - while in the Philippines for the Asean summit.

  • Joey Payne