Champagne orders review of controversial helicopter deal with the Philippines

Review follows comments from a Philippine military official that the aircraft would be used for internal security operations.

Bell 412EPI Hawker Pacific.
Photo: Bell Helicopter

OTTAWA — International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne is ordering a review of the planned sale of 16 412EPI helicopters to the Philippine military amid concerns about the country’s human rights record.

Government officials initially defended the $233 million deal, which is being facilitated by the Canadian Commercial Corp., saying the helicopters would be used for search-and-rescue missions and disaster relief.

But Champagne says he ordered a review following comments from a senior member of the Philippine military that the Montreal-made aircraft (made by Bell Helicopter) would be used for internal security operations.

Human-rights and arms-control groups have accused the Philippine armed forces of extrajudicial killings and other atrocities in their fight against Islamic militants and communist rebels.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also raised concerns about extrajudicial killings while visiting the country in November, specifically those related to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s violent crackdown on illegal drugs.

The Liberal government has previously been criticized for approving arms exports to countries with questionable human-rights records, most notably the massive deal for light armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia.

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2016

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