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DND formally cancels P12-billion Canada helicopter contract

It looks like it is Canada that is the loser in claiming that the contract for Bell helicopters from Canada is to be reviewed, despite this contract being a repeat order, which means Canada had already supplied the Philippines with the same bell helicopters.

In compliance to President Duterte’s directive, the Department of National Defense (DND) yesterday formally terminated the P12 billion helicopter acquisition contract with a Canadian firm.
“Today (Tuesday), the Department of National Defense (DND) has issued a notice to Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) terminating the contract for the supply and delivery of sixteen (16) units of Bell 412 Combat Utility Helicopters for the Philippine Air Force,” Director Arsenio Andolong, DND-Public Affairs Service, said in a statement.
“This is in compliance with the directive of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, and pursuant to the Government Procurement Law (RA 9184) which authorizes contract termination for the convenience of the government,” he added.
The termination was precipitated by the review ordered by the Canadian government on the implementation of the signed contract agreement between the DND and CCC.
The DND reiterated that the Canadian government does not have any business on how the DND will use the helicopters –stressing that the aircraft are being bought.

“While the combat utility helicopters being purchased are primarily for the purpose of transporting personnel and supplies, the department believes that it does not owe the Canadian government any justification for an outright purchase of equipment from a privately-owned company,” Andolong said.
“The department will continue to pursue the modernization program, and will look into procuring the combat utility helicopters from other countries in lieu of the Bell 412,” he added.
Earlier on Monday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that the DND will look at South Korea, Russia, Turkey and China as possible source of the helicopters programmed for the Philippine Air Force.
He admitted that the scrapping of the deal with Bell and CCC would delay the DND’s procurement process which is part of the modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
The terminated contract covered 16 pieces of Bell 412 EPI choppers with a total worth of P12 billion, the third biggest modernization project of the military after the acquisition of a squadron of South Korean FA-50 fighter jets worth P18.9 billion and the procurement of two brand new frigates with a total worth of P15.7 billion.
The deal was not the first between the DND and a Canadian company. Previously the AFP acquired eight combat utility helicopters with another Canadian firm.
Immediately after the contract for the 16 Bell 412 was formalized, the Canadian government announced that it would review the deal after learning that the choppers would be used in internal security operations (ISO).
Duterte earlier ordered the country’s military to cancel a $234 million deal to buy Canadian-built combat utility helicopters.
Duterte said last Friday that equipment bought by the country’s military needs to be free of any restrictions since it could be used in fighting insurgents.
Duterte said in the future the Philippine military will not buy its equipment from either Canada or the U.S.
“So from here on now, I am directing the Armed Forces of the Philippines since most of the guns, bullets and whatever, weapons of war … invariably could be used against the rebels and the terrorists,” he told journalists in Davao City on Friday. “Do not buy any more from Canada. Or from the United States, because there is always a condition attached.”
The Canadian Commercial Corporation, a government agency, brokered a deal to supply 16 Bell 412 helicopters to the Philippine military.
A contract was signed Dec. 29 and the deal was announced Tuesday at the Singapore Air Show.
The Liberal government, however, says it was unaware that the helicopters were going to be used for military operations and against the rebels.
It stated the original purpose of the aircraft was for search and rescue and disaster relief. Liberal sources blamed the previous Conservative government for initiating the deal.
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland indicated she is ready the block the sale if needed.
But the Philippine government never hid its intention to use Canadian-built helicopters in military operations, even going as far as displaying the first batch of those choppers armed with machineguns during an official ceremony in 2015 attended by Canada’s ambassador to the Philippines.
Global Affairs Canada initially defended the helicopter sale, pointing out the aircraft would be used “exclusively” for disaster relief, search and rescue and passenger transport missions. Freeland’s office also circulated a photo of a similar helicopter painted red, blue and white.
David Pugliese wrote about this background on the Canadian side.

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