The Philippines military denies that it planned to use 16 Bell helicopters bought from Canda as attack aircraft against local insurgents following Ottawa’s review report of the deal.
Canadian media had that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government was reconsidering the sale over fears the aircraft would be used in internal security operations, just hours after both governments had announced it in public.
“They must not politicize the acquisition,” said Major-General Restituto Padilla, the deputy chief of staff for plans and programs of the Philippine armed forces.
“You must understand that these are utility helicopters, not attack helicopters,” Padilla told AFP.
The Philippine defense department said that the deal was signed with trade promotion outfit Canadian Commercial Corp last December, shortly after Trudeau clashed with President Rodrigo Duterte during a Manila visit over Philippine drug war killings.
The air force of the Philippine defense department would use the Bell Bell 412EPI aircraft, worth US$234.8 million, for disaster response and humanitarian missions, but also for “anti-terrorism.”
“Not at all. They are purely for utility purposes — ergo, transport purposes especially during HADR operations,” he said, using a military term for disaster response. “We have separate and dedicated attack helicopters.”