MANILA — Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito on Wednesday said President Rodrigo R. Duterte made the right decision in cancelling the USD233-million helicopter deal with Canada saying the Canadian government cannot dictate on how the Philippine government would use the choppers.
“I think the President is right in this decision. Hindi naman siguro tayo bibili ng chopper at sasabihin nila kung paano natin ito gagamitin (I’m sure we won’t buy choppers and then they will tell us how we should use it),” Ejercito said in a press briefing at the Senate.
On Friday, Duterte ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to scrap the deal after Canada raised concerns that the Bell 412 combat utility helicopters being bought for the Philippine Air Force would be used in counterinsurgency operations.
Following the President’s orders, the Department of National Defense (DND) on Tuesday officially issued its termination contract notice to Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC).
In a statement, the DND said that it does not owe the Canadian government any justification for an outright purchase of equipment from a privately-owned company.
Ejercito expressed his support to Duterte and the DND.
He said that he could not understand why the Canadian government had to interfere on how the Philippine government wanted to use the combat helicopters.
“The country, the Republic, or the government has to protect itself not only external but also internal threats. Siguro naman yung Canada (I’m sure on the part of Canada), they should have understood the government has to protect itself from internal threats as well,” the lawmaker said.
“Hindi naman pwedeng sabihin na pang-rescue mission nyo lang, pang-transport lang yan. Hindi nyo pa pwedeng gamitin pang anti-insurgency…hindi naman pwede yun. (They cannot tell us that it should only be used for rescue missions or transport purposes only. You cannot use that for anti-insurgency. That is unacceptable.) That is already a matter of internal security. So they should respect the Philippine government, especially the AFP and the DND in their operations against internal threats,” Ejercito said. (PNA)