Canada sells 16 helicopters to Philippines after drug war row

Champagne orders review of controversial helicopter deal with the Philippines

Palace: We can look elsewhere for military choppers

Canda's Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said that the deal - formally signed on Tuesday - had been struck in 2012 on the understanding the helicopters would be used for search-and-rescue missions.

Bell and the Philippine government had signed a deal last month to buy 16 Bell 412 helicopters for $233 million.

"I want to tell the armed forces to cut the deal, don't proceed with it and somehow we will look for another supplier", Duterte said of the helicopter purchase.

Canada has very clear regulations about to whom it can sell weapons and how they can be used, he said during a question and answer event at the University of Chicago.

But then Reuters reported that Philippine Major-General Restituto Padilla, military chief of plans, told the publication the helicopters would be used for the military's internal security operations and possibly the missions Bell mentioned.

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Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Thursday that an "extremely rigorous human rights review" would be undertaken before any export permit was issued over the helicopter contract.

He added that the Canadian government will make sure any deal entered into by the their government are "abiding by the rules and expectations that are not just values, but actual rules that the Canadian government has to follow". Human rights groups accuse police of carrying out illegal killings, staging crime scenes and falsifying reports, a charge they deny.

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

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.

Philippine troops are battling militants in the Muslim south and communist guerillas in other parts of the mainly Catholic country. "The reason I'm buying helicopters is because I want to finish them off".

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The Philippine defence department acquired eight of the same Bell aircraft model in 2015, which it said went mostly to an air force unit assigned with providing air transport for the Philippine president.

He said if he can not use the equipment against locals "contaminated" by ISIS, he might as well "surrender the government" to them.

Trudeau said in November he had called out Duterte over "human rights, the rule of law, and specifically extrajudicial killings".

Almost 4,000 mostly poor drug suspects have been killed in clashes with police, according to police officials, who say the suspects resisted violently.

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