DND to purchase helicopters elsewhere if Canada cancels deal

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / JOAN BONDOC

The Department of National Defense (DND) said it will procure combat utility helicopters from another source should Canada cancels the sale of the aircraft to the Philippine government.

“Should the Canadian government choose to discontinue their sale of the aircraft to us, then we will procure them from another source,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Thursday.

The Canadian government ordered a review of the purchase of 16 Bell 412 EPI helicopters to the Philippine government amid concerns that it will be used against local insurgents.

READ: PH says Canada helicopters ‘not for attack’

When the deal had been struck in 2012, Canada’s understanding was that the helicopters would be used for search and rescue missions.

Lorenzana said the helicopters will be primarily used “for transportation of personnel and supplies, ferrying wounded and injured soldiers, and the conduct of humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) operations.

“They are not attack or close support aircraft. While they may be used in support of internal security operations or ISO, their role is limited to those that I mentioned,” he said.

He explained that the combat utility helicopters are “utility” helicopters, which mission is to save lives.

The helicopters, scheduled for delivery starting next year, are worth P12 billion. /jpv