By Genalyn Kabiling
The government may shop for new helicopters in Russia, China or South Korea following President Duterte’s decision to cancel the aircraft procurement deal with Canada, a Palace official said Tuesday.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the government would bring its money elsewhere after Canada was hesitant to sell the aircraft to the country over human rights concerns.
“Kung ayaw ninyo magbenta, bibili kami sa iba (If you won’t sell, we will buy elsewhere). Goodbye Canadian helicopters,” Roque said during a press briefing in Kalinga province.
“Bibili tayo ng helicopters either sa China, Russia or South Korea (We will buy helicopters in China, Russia or South Korea),” he added.
The President earlier ordered the military to cancel the $233-million procurement contract for 16 Bell helicopters from Canada after its government sought a review of the deal on human rights issues.
Duterte was annoyed that Canada has imposed a condition against using the helicopters for anti-insurgency operations in the country. He directed the military to no longer acquire aircraft from Canada and the United States for imposing conditions on their use.
Roque said the President’s position was clear that Canada has no right to impose on the Philippine government how it would use the helicopters.
“Bumibili kami ng helicopter, wala kayong pakialam kung paano namin gagamitin yun (We are buying helicopters and you should not care how we intend to use them),” he said.
He admitted the country’s decision to scrap the helicopter contract would somehow have an impact on the ties with Canada.
“Maapektuhan kasi bababa ang kita ng Canadian companies na gumagawa ng Bell helicopters (It will be affected because the profits of Canadian companies manufacturing Bell helicopters),” he said.
“Dadalhin natin sa ibang bansa yung $233 million natin. Ayaw ninyo ang pera namin, huwag (We will bring our $233 million to other countries. If they don’t like our money, fine),” he added.