Stop Canadian helicopters from going to Duterte’s military!

In early February the shocking news came to light that a Canadian government agency, the Canadian Commercial Corporation, had brokered a deal to sell 16 Canadian-made Bell Helicopters to the Philippine military.   The uproar was immediate, with condemnations from a broad array of human rights groups and questions raised in Parliament.

“The Liberal government had pledged to uphold higher standards after the terrible Saudi arms deal but instead it is selling to …[a] regime in Asia where the president brags about personally shooting drug users and throwing people out of helicopters,” said Steve Staples, vice president of the Rideau Institute in Ottawa.

“How long will it be until the (Philippine) military is using the helicopters during executions?”

Once the government’s rationale — that the helicopters were only going to be used for search and rescue — was contradicted by none other than the Philippine President himself, the government no longer tried to defend the indefensible but announced an immediate review of the deal.  Then President Duterte himself pulled the plug because he bristled at any notion of restrictions on his country’s use of this equipment.

Now we learn that the deal may be back on again, with direct talks taking place between Bell Helicopter and the Philippines government.  They are clearly hoping to take advantage of one of two gigantic loopholes in Canada’s export control system, which will not fixed by Bill C-47, Canada’s draft legislation to enable our accession to the landmark Arms Trade Treaty.  These loopholes are:

  • The helicopters are shipped to Bell Helicopter Textron headquarters in Texas before they are sent to the Philippines; OR
  • The helicopters are classed as civilian and any weapons are added after shipment.

In either case, the requirement for a Canadian export permit  — and therefore of a thorough human rights vetting — would be avoided.

Let’s be clear.  This is the same deal we thought was dead shortly after it came to light in February. President Duterte is still being investigated by the International Criminal Court for potential war crimes. The end use of the goods is still the Philippine military whose President has vowed to use them in counterinsurgency operations rife with extreme human rights abuses.  RI President Peggy Mason cites one particularly horrifying example:

This is the President who urged his military to shoot women rebels in the genitals to render them ‘useless’.

The Trudeau government must stop this atrocious deal by any means necessary.

And then they must close the glaring loopholes in the legislation, Bill C-47, now before Parliament to regulate “dual use” equipment along with all other arms exports to the United States.

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Photo credit: Marcelino Pascua/PCOO

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3 Responses to “Stop Canadian helicopters from going to Duterte’s military!”

  1. DemetriosMay 12, 2018 at 10:29 am #

    For once I disagree with Ceasefire, and I came here to voice my opinion only to find the Joel below expressed my thoughts completely. The Philippines is not Canada, and we should be careful not to apply our standards of governance to others.

    Rodrigo Duterte is successfully fighting the scourge of addiction and terrorism his own way, and when (and if?) he has said vile things like shooting women in the crotch, it’s only a blustery language to make his people listen. Feminism has a habit of being opportunistic in the West, and it’s become very good at finger pointing and used (not always) as a publicity stunt.

  2. JoelMay 11, 2018 at 12:04 pm #

    Your organization stance on this is very disturbing. I used to believe in ceasefire but now I can see that like others it can be easily persuaded to take a stand on a matter without factual basis. Give me a factual evidence that he has violated any law especially that of the human rights. I bet you you wouldn’t find any because he hasn’t. He does portray this tough persona on crimes and criminals but it’s neither morally nor lawfully wrong but instead has been very effective in fighting this drug epidemic and as a result depending on which news source you read anywhere from 60,000 to 700,000 involve in drugs surrendered right after he was elected as president. This and the resolute operation of the entire police force resulted in lesser crimes and the majority of people feeling safe again in their neighbourhood. A lot of the crimes before were related to drugs that includes domestic violence, robbery, killings, extortion, etc. I don’t even have to say that his tough persona on crimes and corruption is supported by his people. But one thing you should understand is that his tough persona is only towards those first are people involve in drugs or shabu, second corruption, third terrorist and rebels, fourth outsiders or foreigners imposing their own ethos which is a residue of colonial mentality of being superior that only them has the moral judgement and that their belief are the only right ones to follow.
    His love for his fellowmen are unquestionable as shown by his recent action on the plight of Filipino workers in Kuwait. Due to a lot of overseas Filipino workers who died from their abusive employer he ordered a ban and announced to take back all of them and spend the government money including the billion pesos gift from China he received to support them back home.
    Just right after arriving in Russia he hurried back home due to terrorist besieging Marawi to ensure that the towns people are taken care of and defeated this terrorist within 5 months.
    Every time there are calamities he’s there on the ground providing real aid and listening to people’s need and in turn giving them those needs right there and then he would sign them up a check or call an official to provide this financial assistance.
    His action never betrays his good intent for the Filipino people.
    In regards to this helicopter he doesn’t really care if Canada or America doesn’t sell him this just don’t insult him by attaching conditions such as “you can’t use this against your people”. The terrorist that were in Marawi and the rebels are Filipino people so it doesn’t make sense. It’s the government obligation to protect it’s people not just from foreign entities but also from domestic groups.
    It’s sad but now I learned that Ceasefire is no longer a credible organization.


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