The president of the Philippines has reportedly reignited his feud with Canada with an inflammatory word choice.
GMA News, a network based in the Philippines with more than five million Twitter followers, published a story Tuesday in which Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte criticized members of the Canadian government over a cancelled helicopter deal.
The aircraft agreement would have resulted in Canada sending 16 combat utility helicopters to the Philippines in exchange for $233 million. The deal fell through when concerns arose over what the helicopters would be used for.
The Philippines has been embroiled in a lengthy battle with rebels and drug dealers in the country.
“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.
— Rappler (@rapplerdotcom) March 20, 2018
The talk of review only came after a Filipino official said the helicopters would be used against rebels, a comment later walked back by the country’s defence minister. The military in the Philippines later said the helicopters were not intended for attack, but Duterte made it clear what he wanted to use the aircraft for.
“The reason I’m buying helicopters is because I want to finish them off,” he said, referring to rebels, as reported by Reuters.
Duterte decided to axe the agreement when Canadian officials ordered a review of the deal and the agreement spiralled into a controversy.
According to Reuters, the deal was reached in 2012 and the helicopters were expected to be used for search and rescue operations.
In January, the Human Rights Watch released a report claiming more than 12,000 lives have been lost in the Philippines since the so called “drug war” began in 2016. Critics say many of the reported executions have taken place without due process.
During a summit featuring Asian and Western nations last November, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confronted Duterte about the bloody conflict taking place in the Philippines.
“I also mentioned human rights, rule of law and specifically extra judicial killings as being an issue that Canada is concerned with,” the prime minister said, according to Reuters.
While Trudeau described the Filipino leader as being “receptive” to the comments, that perception quickly changed once Duterte responded publicly to the comments made by a “foreigner” he did not name.
“I said I will not explain. It is a personal and official insult,” Duterte said at the time.
The diplomatic relationship between the two countries have been icy ever since, despite the fact that Canada has a sizable Filipino population. More than 650,000 ethnic Filipinos reside in Canada, according to census data from 2011.