The Canadian government has agreed to sell eight Canadian-built Bell 412 helicopters to the Philippines armed forces in a deal worth more than $100 million. The first of the helicopters will be delivered next year (David Pugliese, “Philippines Military To Buy Canadian Helicopters–Delivery of Bell 412s To Begin Next Year,” Ottawa Citizen, 26 March 2014).
Philippines Defence Undersecretary Fernando Manalo made no effort to downplay the helicopters’ military use, describing them as “combat utility” aircraft.
Manalo told reporters in the Philippines that between this deal and another $420 million contract for fighter jets with Korea, their armed forces will have “the minimum capability to demonstrate their ability to perform their responsibilities.”
Paul Dewar, the NDP’s foreign affairs critic, condemned the absence of communication from the Canadian government regarding the contract and other recently military export sales, commenting that such sales are now “shrouded in secrecy.”
“This has been made public in the Philippines,” he said. “If it’s good for the economy or jobs then great, let’s see the deal. There’s no reason not to have full disclosure on this.”
Dewar said the federal government has been lagging on providing data to Parliament about Canadian arms exports. “It would take them a couple of keystrokes to give Parliament and Canadians the latest data on what our military exports have been,” he said. “It’s a matter of transparency and whether the government wants to be transparent in the area of arms exports.”
The Canadian Commercial Corporation, which was instrumental in a recent $10 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, is facilitating the transaction. Both the Canadian Commercial Corporation and Bell Helicopters of Montreal have yet to comment on the deal.
Photo credit: Highway Patrol Images