Duterte eyes buying helicopters from South Korea

UPDATED: President Rodrigo Duterte said on June 3 before nearly 2,000 Filipinos who gathered at the Grand Hilton Hotel in Seoul, South Korea during a meet and greet event that the Philippine government is considering the purchase of helicopters from South Korea to boost the capability of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Duterte is on a three-day visit to Seoul to further strengthen Philippine-South Korean bilateral ties, especially on trade, investments and defense and security.

“Dito nagpunta ako, I’m trying to, maybe the day after tomorrow, I’m going to, bibili tayo ng mga helicopters,” Duterte said in his speech.

“Alam mo, originally meron na tayo, nag-order tayo ng Bell [412EPI helicopters] from Canada. Sabi nila: Mag-deliver kami ng Bell helicopters pero you cannot use it against your own citizens,” the President said. “So anong pag-gagamitan ko niyan? Para evacuation ng mga wounded, mga ‘may sakit, parang air ambulance. Mag-bili ako 23 air ambulance?”

The Philippines was supposed to purchase 16 units of Bell 412EPI as combat utility helicopters from Canada but Duterte ordered the cancellation of the deal last February after the Canadian government set conditions that the choppers should not be used for combat operations.

“My citizens are joining the New People’s Army, the communists, and they are fighting government and killing my soldiers and my policemen and civilians. It’s a dirty war and the people are dying,” Duterte said addressing the Canadian government. He added that some Moros are joining terrorist groups.

“Bakit mo sabihin na I cannot use it against my citizens, when there are citizens in my country trying to overthrow my government,” he added.

Duterte said the country is also facing a problem on terrorism, which, he predicted, would remain in the next 10 to 15 years.

Aside from fighting terrorism and criminality, he vowed to continue his war on drugs and his campaign against graft and corruption.

“I said only four. Corruption and I’m doing it. I said illegal drugs and criminality. And talk to the enemies of the state to seek peace,” he said.

Duterte said his government has already been talking with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front, as well as with the New People’s Army, particularly with communist leader Jose Maria Sison.

Meanwhile, the President thanked the South Korean government for treating well the more than 66,000 Filipinos living and working in Korea.

“I would like to thank (the South Korean) government for hosting so many Filipinos here and keeping them safe here,” Duterte said.

Duterte is scheduled to have a bilateral meeting with South Korea President Moon Jae-in at the Blue House on Monday.

The two leaders will then witness the signing of major agreements on transportation, science and technology, trade and economic cooperation, and a loan agreement on the New Cebu International Container Port project. with PNA

Sources: https://www.facebook.com/pcoogov/videos/458280687964744/; http://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1037336