After the Philippine government formally signed a $233 million deal to buy 16 helicopters from the Canadian government on February 7, the Great White North announced that it will review the agreement.
According to Canada’s Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, the said deal struck in 2012 agreed that the helicopters would be used for search-and-rescue missions.
However, Major-General Restituto Padilla, military chief of plans, in a Reuters report, noted that the helicopters could be of help for search-and-rescue operations for disaster relief operations, but said that “the helicopters will be used for the military’s internal security operations.”
This was in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s armed forces modernization program.
“When we saw that declaration… we immediately launched a review with the relevant authorities. And we will obviously review the facts and take the right decision,” Champagne told reporters according to another Reuters report.
Defense Seretary Delfin Lorenzana, who signed the government deal with the Canadian Commercial Corporation licensed to market the American military aircraft, defended the deal.
“I met with the Bell people in Singapore two nights ago and they have no indicated any hitch in the project,” Lorenzana said in a text message sent to reporters.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked if he was concerned if the helicopters will be used against Filipino citizens, to which he replied with, “Absolutely.”
“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.
The Bell 412EPI choppers will be brought to the country early 2019.
For the next five years, the government is allotting P125 billion to modernize its armed forces; however, on the top of the list are equipment and armaments for internal security operations to conquer domestic threats as well as guard its maritime borders.