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Chopper deal doomed

Another instance of intrusion was posed by the Canadian government over its threat to probe the recently consummated sale of 16 Bell helicopters to the military at a cost of $233 million (P11.65 billion).
Canadian Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said the deal will be subject to a review since the “aircraft could be used to fight rebels.”
Champagne said the deal was signed on the understanding the helicopters would be used for search-and-rescue missions.
The Canadians attributed their worry to a statement of Major-General Restituto Padilla, military chief of plans, who said in a news report that the helicopters would be used for the military’s internal security operations aside from being deployed in search-and-rescue and disaster relief operations.
“When we saw that declaration... we immediately launched a review with the relevant authorities. And we will obviously review the facts and take the right decision,” Champagne said.
The Bell 412EPI helicopters are scheduled for delivery early next year as the military prepares to step up operations against Islamist and communist rebels.
Champagne’s main message was that “human rights is a key element of our foreign policy and of our trade policy.”
The report on the review of course had to cite that “nearly 4,000 Filipinos have been killed by police in a war on drugs since June 2016” and that “human rights groups accuse the police of carrying out illegal killings, staging crime scenes and falsifying reports, a charge they deny.”
The report stated that the Liberal government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was criticized for deciding to honor a contract to sell light armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia, despite human rights concerns.
“Like the helicopter contract, the deal had been arranged by Canada’s former Conservative administration,” it added.
It goes without saying that Canada need not go to the trouble of probing since President Duterte would likely throw it out of the window as a result of his demand for non-interference in all deals into which the government enters.
The Canadian-made choppers, without an argument, would make a huge contribution to the military modernization.
Its specifications state that each is capable of carrying 14 passengers and fly at a maximum speed of 140 knots (around 259 kilometers), cruise speed of 122 knots (226 kilometers per hour) and has a range of 402 nautical miles (745 kilometers) and uses an enhanced Pratt and Whitney PT6T-3D Twin Pac.
Each is equipped with advance features which include an electronic engine control, a glass cockpit display system and Garmin touch-screen navigation system.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana signed the multibillion contract with Bell Helicopter and Canadian Commercial Corp (CCC) last Dec. 29.
Delivery of the first units is expected by the first quarter of 2019 while the rest will be handed over by the second quarter of 2020.
Lorenzana, however, said the aircraft will be used in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and “other-related missions.”
Rody already made clear in the European Union (EU) offer for aid in which P382.45 million worth was returned since the bloc attached conditions to the assistance which was considered as interference.
As far as the Canadians are concerned, they should consider the deal canceled if they insist on the review.
It is not about the choppers being used for counter-insurgency since it may not be at all the plan of the government as delivery of rescue and relief services are indeed among the urgent need of the administration as the result of the more frequent natural disturbances such as typhoons.
The Canadian government imposing conditions on the deal, however, is not something that Rody would easily miss.

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