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

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

Bell Helicopter said in an announcement of the deal that the aircraft were intended "for a variety of missions such as disaster relief, search and rescue, passenger transport and utility transport".

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.

Last year, the Canada-based International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines wrote to Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland asking whether the Canadian helicopters sold in 2015 had been used for such purposes.

The government in Ottawa earlier expressed concerns the helicopters could be used to fight rebels.

According to a report, the Philippines signed a deal with Canada on February 7 for the sale of 16 combat utility choppers worth $233.36 million, or roughly P12 billion pesos. The Associated Press reported the defense secretary did say the country was not afraid to look elsewhere for sellers, should the deal with Canada fall through. "And we will obviously review the facts and take the right decision", Champagne told reporters, without giving more details.

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.

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The Philippines employs attack helicopters and planes to support ground troops battling militants in the Muslim south, as well as against communist guerrillas in other parts of the mainly Catholic Asian nation.

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

In 2014, the Philippines also bought eight Bell 412 helicopters from Bell Helicopter.

NDP foreign affairs critic Helene Laverdiere has added her voice to the chorus of concern, writing on Twitter: "How can Trudeau justify this deal with the Philippines when Duterte's government has plunged the country into a bad human rights crisis?"

"These will be used to transport personnel, supplies, humanitarian missions, ferrying of wounded and injured soldiers, and other forms of humanitarian assistance and disaster response", Roque, the Duterte spokesman, said.

Duterte, who has overseen a crackdown that is said to have left almost 4,000 drug suspects dead, described Trudeau's comments as "a personal and official insult".

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