International  Coalition  for  Human  Rights  in  the  Philippines-­‐Canada  

211  St.  Patrick  St.  #702,  Toronto,  ON  Canada  M5T  2Y9  
  ichrpcanada@yahoo.com  
 

The Honourable Chrystia Freeland March 26, 2017
Minister of Foreign Affairs
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G2

Dear Honourable Freeland,

Re: Military bombings on civilian communities in the Philippines and potential Canadian
connection

I am writing on behalf of the International Coalition on Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) –
Canada to bring to your attention our concerns over military attacks on civilian targets in the
Philippines and the potential connection to Canada.

Over the past two weeks, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have been conducting a number
of aerial strikes on indigenous and rural communities. The escalation of military aerial bombardment
on civilians follows the decision of President Duterte on February 5, 2016 to call off the Peace Talks
between the Government of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front (NDFP). On
March 9, the President instructed the military to ‘drop bombs’ on rebels and consider civilian
casualties as ‘collateral damage’. We are concerned that government forces could be using the Bell
412EP helicopters Canada sold in 2014 to the Philippine Army for these bombing attacks.

Since President Duterte’s declaration, the human rights organization, Karapatan, has reported at least
3 cases of military aerial bombings.

• On March 11, at around 2pm, government troops who were conducting intensive operations in
the province of Compostela Valley dropped at least ten bombs on three villages in the town of
Mabini.
• In a separate incident on the same day, March 11, a local organization, Suara Bangsamoro
reported four bombs were dropped in Barangay Andabit, Maguindanao from FA-50 fighter jets
from the 57th IBPA forcing villagers to evacuate to neighbouring communities.
• On March 13, members of a humanitarian mission led by Karapatan observed at least 2 Huey
military helicopters hovering over the communities where troops of the Philippine Army were
undertaking intensive operations in two villages in the town of Nasugbo, Batangas province.
• On March 16, at least 14 bombs were dropped by members of the Philippine Army who were
conducting military operations in the town of Malibcong, Abra province.

While there are no reports of civilian deaths caused by the military bombings, they have sown terror
among the villagers causing them immense suffering. Close to 650 families had been forcibly
evacuated. In one case, the evacuees included 200 children. The bombings in Malibcong, Abra
caused forest fires and burned rice fields.

*The  International  Coalition  on  Human  Rights  in  the  Philippines  (ICHRP)    is  a  global  network    of  organizations    outside  the  
Philippines  who  are  concerned  about  human  rights  and  committed  to  work  for  a  just  and  lasting  peace  in  the  Philippines.  
When the Canadian government announced the sale of the 8 Bell 412EP helicopters to the Philippine
Army in 2014, we raised our concerns to the government and parliamentarians that the helicopters
might be used against civilian communities in military operations such as those now taking place.

Our concern that the Canadian helicopters might be used in such bombings follows reports by human
rights organizations and Philippine newspapers about military helicopter bombings during counter-
insurgency operations against the New People's Army (NPA) where civilians were killed, injured
and forced to flee.

Officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs assured us in 2014 that Canada’s military export
control guidelines were followed in the sale of the Bell 412 helicopters. However, has there been
follow-up to ensure respect of the guidelines?

Information we have gathered from internet sites about the Philippine Air Force (PAF) says that 3 of
the Bell 412EP helicopters were commissioned “for VIP and 5 as combat utility helicopters.” The 5
combat utility helicopters were commissioned to PAF’s 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing based in
Benito Ebuen Air Base, which is responsible for conducting tactical helicopter operations in support
of the Philippine Air Force and the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Among the uses of combat
utility helicopters are ground attacks and air assaults. Additionally, we’ve learned that another
Canadian company, Calgary-based Eagle Copters Ltd, has been involved in another helicopter deal
to the Philippines.

In view of the escalating occurrences of military bombings on civilian communities and President
Duterte's instruction to the military to use aerial bombings in the war against the NPA and to
disregard the harm they inflict on civilian communities,

• We wish to know if the Bell 412EP helicopters and other helicopters sold by Canada to the
Philippine Army are being used in these bombing operations.
• We strongly urge the Canadian government to assess whether the criteria for the sale of the
helicopters are being observed by the Philippine Army
• We call on the Canadian government to suspend all sales of military goods and all defense-
related assistance to and cooperation with the Philippine Government
• We urge the Canadian government to call on President Duterte to put an immediate stop to the
military aerial bombings on civilian communities and instead to vigorously pursue the
continuation of the Peace Talks between the GRP and NDFP.

We look forward to hearing from the Minister’s office about this troubling issue and about measures
being taken to ensure that Canada is not implicated in operations by the Philippine military against
civilian communities through its sales of military goods, training and other defense-related interests.

Sincerely,

(Ms.) Bern Jagunos (on behalf of the ICHRP – Canada)  

*The  International  Coalition  on  Human  Rights  in  the  Philippines  (ICHRP)    is  a  global  network    of  organizations    outside  the  
Philippines  who  are  concerned  about  human  rights  and  committed  to  work  for  a  just  and  lasting  peace  in  the  Philippines.