Hanoi (VNA) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on February 9abruptly cancelled a 235 million USD contract to buy Canada’s 16 Bell 412EPIutility helicopters.
The decision came after the Canadian government ordered areview over human rights concerns over drug war deaths in the Philippines.
Bell Helicopter said in an announcement of the deal that theaircraft were intended “for a variety of missions such as disaster relief,search and rescue, passenger transport and utility transport”.
Manila said they would also be used for”anti-terrorism” operations, including to evacuate wounded soldiers. Dutertesaid he respected Canada’s stance but added it was unavoidable that the Philippineair force would use the choppers against the rebels and terrorists.
The Philippines signed an agreement to buy 16 Bell 412EPIhelicopters from the aircraft manufacturer Bell Helicopter during the Singaporeaviation exhibition. The deal was part of the country’s “Vision 2” plan toupgrade its armed forces.
The two-engine Bell 412EPI can carry 14 people. It is fullyequipped with modern features to perform humanitarian, search and rescue andpeople and equipment transport tasks.
According to Sameer Rehman, Bell Helocopter’s CEO forAsia-Pacific, this is not the first time the Philippines has bought helicoptersfrom the firm. The country’s air force bought Bell UH-1H Iroquois in late 1960sand Bell 412 in 1990s. Recently, Bell Helicopter delivered 8 Bell 412EPhelicopters to the Philippines, he noted.-VNA