Philippine President hopes to replace Canadian helicopters with South Korean aircraft
DAVID PUGLIESE, OTTAWA CITIZEN
Updated: June 4, 2018
A Philippine Air Force chaplain blesses a newly-delivered Bell 412 helicopter during a christening ceremony in Manila in 2015. JAY DIRECTO/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is in South Korea where he is looking to cut a deal on the purchase of new helicopters to replace those Canadian-built aircraft he rejected earlier this year.
The Liberal government ordered a review of the original contract involving Bell Helicopter Canada after human rights concerns were raised in February about aircraft it was selling to the Philippine military being used on the front lines of the country’s various conflicts.
But that review angered Duterte, who cancelled the U.S. $234-million deal for 16 Bell 412 helicopters to be built in Mirabel, Que. Other Bell 412s had already been delivered in a deal brokered by the secretive and controversial federal government organization, the Canadian Commercial Corporation.
The Canadian government claimed the helicopters were supposed to be used for search and rescue and humanitarian missions but the Philippine government contradicted that and said the aircraft were for internal security missions and transport of wounded during combat operations.
Duterte told a gathering of Philippine citizens and journalists in Seoul, South Korea on Sunday that he needs such helicopters for the “dirty war” his government is fighting. “We ordered Bell (helicopters) from Canada,” he said. “They said they will deliver Bell helicopters but you cannot use it against your own citizens. My citizens are joining the New People’s Army, the communists, and they are fighting (the) government and killing my soldiers and my policemen and civilians. It’s a dirty war and the people are dying.”
The international criminal court has launched an initial inquiry into allegations of crimes against humanity committed by Duterte. The allegations relate to extrajudicial executions committed during the president’s war on drugs, which has killed thousands. Duterte, who once boasted about throwing a man to his death from a helicopter, has also warned government officials they would face the same fate if he learned they were involved in corruption.
Duterte started a three-day visit in South Korea on Sunday with the aim to boost trade and defence relations.
South Korea builds the KAI KUH-1 Surion, a twin-engine medium-sized helicopter used by its army. The helicopter carries up to nine troops and a crew of four, which includes two pilots and two door gunners.
Bell had been hoping to revive the helicopter sale to the Philippines.
Akhirnya beli juga yang sama2 asia buat ganti in pesanan bell 412 bikinan kanada yang batal.