Duterte to AFP: Discontinue helicopter deal with Canada

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"We respect the stand of Canada", he said.

"We can not use it for anti-insurgency because if it is used against the Filipino rebels, they will not sell it", he said.

"I want to tell the Armed Forces to cut the deal".

"When we saw that declaration... we immediately launched a review with the relevant authorities".

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.

Asked later whether he was concerned the helicopters might be used against Filipino citizens, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau replied: "Absolutely".

Bell Helicopter signed a deal at the Singapore Air Show Feb. 6 for 16 412EPIs.

Trudeau, who raised human rights concerns to President Rodrigo Duterte previous year, replied: "Absolutely".

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"They are not attack or close support aircraft", he said.

Trudeau, who was present at a summit of southeast Asian countries, said Philippines need a rule of law and expressed his wish on behalf of his federal government to help Philippines.

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.

"These (helicopters) are a real benefit to Filipinos", Canadian ambassador John Holmes said on the mission's Facebook page, adding it would boost Manila's "search and rescue and disaster relief capabilities".

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 awful human rights crisis?"

Duterte, who has overseen a crackdown that has left almost 4,000 drug suspects dead at the hands of the police, later described Trudeau's comments as "a personal and official insult".

"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.

The Philippine government says police have only shot suspects in self-defence and rejects human rights groups' claims the crackdown is a crime against humanity.

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