Duterte eyes purchasing Bell choppers from SoKor

MANILA � President Rodrigo Duterte said Sunday the Philippine government is considering the purchase of Bell helicopters from South Korea to boost the capability of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

I went here, I'm trying to, the day after tomorrow, to buy helicopters for we can look here in South Korea, Duterte said in his speech before nearly 2,000 Filipinos who gathered at the Grand Hilton Hotel in Seoul.

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.

The Philippines was supposed to purchase 23 helicopters from Canada but Duterte ordered the cancellation of the USD234-million deal last February after the Canadian government set conditions that the choppers should not be used for combat operations.

You know, originally we had them. We ordered Bell (helicopters) from Canada. They said they will deliver Bell helicopters but you cannot use it against you own citizens, the President said.

The Canadian government said the choppers should be used only for air ambulance but Duterte said the Philippines has to protect its citizens from enemies of the state.

My citizens are joining the New People's Army, the communists, and they are fighting (against the) government and killing my soldiers and my policemen and civilians. It's a dirty war and the people are dying, he explained.

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.

Accompanied by his Cabinet members, Duterte was welcomed by nearly 2,000 flag-carrying and cheering Filipinos who chanted his name after the President was introduced by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano.

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. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency