"As its designation "Combat Utility Helicopter of CUH" connotes, the Bell CUH 412 is a utility helicopter and, contrary to what some parties mistakenly believe, its mission is to save lives. We can not use it for anti-insurgency because if it is used against the Filipino rebels, they will not sell it", the President said in a speech in Davao City on February 9.
President Rodrigo Duterte ordered last Friday the scrapping of a 233 million-U.S. dollar helicopter deal after the Canadian government chose to review the deal due to concerns the Philippine armed forces might use the utility helicopters in counter-insurgency operations.
In connection with the cancellation of the contract with Bell Helicopter, Duterte has ordered the DND to look for other sources of helicopters and military equipment outside of Canada and the United States.
Lorenzana said that Russia, China, South Korea, Turkey and India could be the new sources for helicopters with similar capabilities of the Bell 412 EPI helicopters.
According to Reuters, Duterte said the Philippines would not buy from countries that pose conditions.
"It's intended use as combat utility helicopter is for the transport of troops especially combat casualties and for troop sustainment".
Three days later, Duterte admitted that the helicopters would be used against rebels.
"Now, I am directing the Armed Forces of the Philippines, since most of the guns, bullets and whatever weapons of war, we will really use those against them", he added.
The military sought to save the deal, giving assurances that they will be used for disaster response.
Upon learning the aircraft may be used against Filipino citizens, the Canadian government has ordered a review into the helicopter contract.
On Monday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the Philippines could look to South Korea, China and Russian Federation for the purchase of helicopters that have similar capabilities as Bell. The report continued that the defense minister said the Philippines, since it was buying the helicopters, should not have to justify their use.
Bern Jagunos of the International Coalition on Human Rights in the Philippines wrote to Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland following reports that air strikes during operations against communist rebels had razed a forest and destroyed farms tilled by indigenous people in the town of Malibcong, Abra.