Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Friday he has ordered the military to cancel a $233.36 million agreement to purchase 16 Bell 412EPI helicopters from Canada
“I want to tell the armed forces to cut the deal, don’t proceed anymore and somehow we will look for another supplier. We respect the stand of Canada,” Duterte said in a televised briefing.
Duterte also directed the military not to buy arms anymore “from Canada or from the United States because there is always a condition attached.”
Bell Helicopter, the developer of 412EPI , signed the purchase agreement with the Philippine Department of National Defense (DND) for the helicopters on Tuesday, Feb. 6. The helicopters were purchased by the DND for the Philippine Air Force (PAF) through a government-to-government contract with the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC).
The following day, the Canadian government ordered a review, in response to comments to Reuters by Philippine Major-General Restituto Padilla that the helicopters would be used for operations against communist and Islamist rebels.
Canada’s International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said the understanding was that the helicopters are being used for search-and-rescue (SAR) missions. Bell Helicopter said in a statement that the helicopters “will be used for a variety of missions such as disaster relief, search and rescue, passenger transport and utility transport”.
Duterte said he respected Canada’s stand but added it was unavoidable that the Philippine air force would used the choppers “against the rebels and terrorists”. “If I cannot use the gunship, the helicopter, then I might as well surrender this government to them,” he said, referring to the rebels.
“The reason I’m buying helicopters is because I want to finish them off,” Duterte added.
The Bell H-13 Sioux, a variant of the iconic Bell 47, was the first helicopter to enter into service with the Philippine Air Force in 1955. The Philippine Air Force has operated derivations of the Bell UH-1H since the late 1960s, and since 1994 when they received their first two Bell 412s. More recently, Bell Helicopter delivered eight 412EP aircraft to the Philippines in 2015.