Duterte questions if Trudeau should be PM after helicopter deal cancelled

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, shakes hands with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte in Manila in November 2017. The two world leaders have seen their relationship deteriorate since this international meeting. Photo from Getty Images.

The president of the Philippines is taking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to task for his human rights concerns.

The outspoken Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte referenced the Canadian government while speaking about a botched deal for the Philippines to purchase a fleet of attack helicopters from Canada.

The story was first reported in Canada by Global News. In a video posted online Tuesday, the Filipino leader can be seen slamming Trudeau for allegedly not fully understanding the situation in the Philippines.

“For God’s sake, Mr. Trudeau. My own citizens are rebelling against us, killing my soldiers and policemen and civilians. And I cannot use the helicopter because they are citizens but they are out to overthrow my government,” an exasperated Duterte said.

“If you cannot understand, you should not be there in that mighty post of yours. Because you do not know the history of the world and geopolitics,” the president added.

The Southeast Asian country has been battling rebels and drug dealers for some time, but the conflict escalated in 2016 when Duterte won the presidency.

In January, Human Rights Watch released a report claiming more than 12,000 lives have been lost in the Philippines since the apparent “drug war” began in 2016. Critics say many of the reported executions have taken place without due process. In 2017, Amnesty International called Duterte a “human rights nightmare.”

The criticism hasn’t deterred Duterte, who mocked Trudeau and called him “corny” for his stance on the matter.

“This is a troubled world. It has always been a troubled world ever since,” Duterte said, adding internal and exterla forces are “making it hard” for Filipinos.

Not the first squabble

In 2012, the Philippines agreed to purchase 16 attack helicopters from Canada for $233 million. However, the deal was cancelled by the Philippines earlier this year after Canadian officials ordered a review of the deal, which became controversial after Duterte reportedly admitted he wanted to use the helicopters to “finish” off rebels.

Canadian officials said they were initially told the aircraft would be used for humanitarian missions and search-and-rescue operations.

Joe Pickerill, a spokesman for International Trade Diversification Minister Jim Carr, told CTV News via email the statements made by the Filipino government earlier this year “remain deeply troubling.”

This isn’t the first time Duterte has expressed displeasure with his Canadian counterpart.

In March, Duterte reportedly slammed Trudeau over his human rights concerns that eventually led to a botched agreement for the fleet of Canadian-made helicopters.

“My God, you Canadians, how stupid can you get? Our citizens are joining the ISIS so we have every right to kill our citizens because we do not want to destroy the community with apathy,” Duterte reportedly told local officials in Manila, as reported by GMA News, a network based in the Philippines.

Last November, Trudeau said he confronted Duterte about the bloody conflict taking place in the Philippines. Duterte responded publicly by referring to the incident as a “personal and official insult,” without mentioning the “foreigner” by name.