Philippines Cancels Controversial Helicopter Order
The Philippines has canceled a $300 million order for 16 Bell 412 EPI helicopters after the Canadian government expressed concern they might be used in President Rodrigo Duterte’s highly controversial campaign to kill insurgents. On Thursday, Philippine military officials tried to assure Canadian officials that the helicopters, which are built at Bell’s factory in Mirabel, Quebec, would only be used to ferry troops and supplies and evacuate wounded soldiers. But Duterte called his military masters' assurances “a crazy proposition” and told a televised news conference that he absolutely intended to use the helicopters to hunt rebels.
“I’m buying helicopters because I want to finish them off,” said Duterte. “I want to tell the armed forces to cut the deal, don’t proceed with it and somehow we will look for another supplier.” Duterte also canceled a deal with the U.S. for unspecified weapons. Duterte has been almost universally condemned for the alleged extrajudicial killings of an estimated 4,000 drug dealers in a nationwide crackdown on illicit drug activity.