President Rodrigo Duterte is still angry at Canada over the botched $233-million helicopter deal, months after a Canadian company cancelled on him.
Before the Filipino community in South Korea on Sunday, June 3, Duterte said in a speech how “stupid” Canada was for raising concerns that the helicopters would be used against rebels.
“We ordered Bell helicopters from Canada. They said they will deliver the Bell helicopters but you cannot use [them] against your own citizen[s],” Duterte said.
Sixteen Bell 412EPI utility helicopters were supposed to be purchased by the Philippines from Canada, but Duterte scrapped the deal in February after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ordered a review over fears of human rights abuses.
“How stupid can you… Why would you say that I cannot use it against my own citizens when there are citizens in my country who are trying to overthrow my government?” Duterte demanded.
According to Duterte, Filipinos are joining the New People’s Army and terrorist groups.
“They are fighting the government and killing my soldiers, my policemen and civilians. It’s a dirty war and the people are dying… My Moro brothers, on the other hand, joined terrorist forces and went to Marawi,” Duterte said.
The government is considering purchasing helicopters from South Korea, according to the president.
Duterte’s first instance of calling Canada “stupid” over the helicopter deal was in March.
“Look at how stupid the Canadians are, very stupid. They agreed to sell the helicopters. But when they were due to be delivered, they said, ‘Ah but you cannot use these for military or punitive actions by the police,’” he said during the general assembly of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines.
According to Canada’s International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, the deal was done in 2012 on the understanding that the helicopters would be used for search and rescue.