FACT CHECK: Duterte's reaction to Canada helicopters deal taken out of context

Claim: President Rodrigo Duterte said in his speech that he will use the helicopters from Canada to “kill Filipinos if I want to.”

The blog projectjurisprudence.com in its June 4 post ran the headline, “DUTERTE: STUPID CANADIANS! I WILL USE HELICOPTERS TO KILL FILIPINOS IF I WANT TO.”

As of June 8, the post has been shared with and by a Facebook page and group, both of which are critical of the administration. The Facebook page and group concerned have a total of 676,652 followers. Within these, the post generated 1,416 total interactions.

Rating: MIXED

The facts: The headline took Duterte’s statement out of context. In Duterte's June 3 speech which the blog post referred to, he said he will use the helicopters against Filipinos who are "trying to overthrow the government.” He was talking about the New People’s Army (NPA) and Moro rebels.

The post discussed Duterte’s speech before the Filipino community on June 3 in Seoul, South Korea. Duterte recalled his scrapped $235-million helicopter deal with Canada, which wanted to review the contract, following concerns of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the helicopters would be used against Filipino citizens.

Duterte then called Canada “stupid” for expecting him to use the aircraft vessels for humanitarian and utility purposes only.

"Sabi ko, look and Canada is listening, if you are not you know – my citizens are joining the New People’s Army, the communists and they are fighting government and killing my soldiers and my policemen. At ang civilian and it is a dirty war and people are dying. ‘Yung iba naman, ang mga kapatid kong mga Moro, lumipat doon sa mga terorista at pumunta nga sa Marawi, nakipag-giyera. How stupid can you… Bakit mo sabihin na I cannot use it against my own citizens when there are citizens in my country trying to overthrow my government?” said Duterte.

He also made similar comments in at least one previous occasion.  

During the General Assembly of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines on March 20 in Manila, he explicitly said “we have every right to kill our citizens” but still within the context of fighting insurgents.

In this speech, he also recalled the scrapped Canada deal. Supposedly, the Canadian government said the helicopters should not be used "for military or punitive actions by the police". Duterte then said, “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.”

The government instead chose China and Russia, and recently, South Korea, to buy defense helicopters from, after cancelling the Canada deal in February.

The full transcript of the March 20 and June 3 speeches are available on the website of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).

The blog projectjurisprudence.com was founded on May 5, 2017. Its content is about “Philippines laws, jurisprudence, government and politics.” It also has a section for audio reviewers for law students and professionals. – Miguel Imperial/Rappler.com

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