Malacañang on Thursday said the Philippines may look for other sources to buy choppers after the Canadian government ordered a review of the $233-million agreement for the country's procurement of 16 helicopters.
The decision to review the sale over concerns that the Philippines could breach the rules by deploying the helicopters in counter-insurgency operations came a day after the two countries signed the deal valued at US $233 million (12 billion pesos), reports said.
This was in line with President Rodrigo Duterte's armed forces modernization program.
Asked to comment on the controversy, Padilla told BenarNews that the government had specified in the contract that it required "combat utility helicopters (CUH)" and they would be used primarily for humanitarian-related assignments.
According to the Philippine defence department, the deal was signed with trade promotion outfit Canadian Commercial Corp last December, shortly after Trudeau clashed with Duterte during a Manila visit over alleged Philippine police murders of thousands of drug suspects.
The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines wrote to Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland previous year asking whether those helicopters had been used to commit human-right abuses.
The Philippines employs attack helicopters and planes to support ground troops battling militants in the Muslim south, as well as against communist guerrillas in other parts of the mainly Catholic Asian nation. "And we will obviously review the facts and take the right decision", Champagne told reporters, without giving more details.
"We have separate and dedicated attack helicopters". Gen. Restituto Padilla, chief of plans at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), said the helicopters would be used for internal security operations apart from deployment in search-and-rescue and disaster relief operations.
"These are multi-purpose aircraft for anti-terrorism as well as HADR", he said, using military lingo that refers to disaster response and humanitarian missions. The country is also regularly battered by typhoons.
Trudeau said in November he had called out Duterte over "human rights, the rule of law, and specifically extrajudicial killings".
Designated as a "combat utility helicopter, " the aircraft is a utility helicopter and "contrary to what some parties mistakenly believe, its mission is to save lives, " he said.
During Trudeau's official visit in the Philippines previous year for the 31st Association of South East Nations, he said that he "impressed upon" Duterte the need to respect the rule of law to combat illegal drugs.
The Philippine government says police only shot the suspects in self-defence and rejects human rights monitors' description of the crackdown as a crime against humanity.