By Ben Cal
Former president, Fidel V. Ramos, has welcomed South Korea’s move to help the Philippines modernize its defense capability.
Ramos made the statement during an interview with the Philippine New Agency (PNA), following the launch of his latest book, “Undying Service to the Filipino”, at the Manila Hotel Champagne Room last Thursday.
Earlier, South Korean Ambassador Han Dong-Man said his country is ready to help the modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), such as by supplying new submarines, helicopters, and infantry weapons.
Han said his country will never forget when the Philippines sent more than 7,000 combat troops to Korea during the Korean War.
Ramos cited South Korea’s defense industry that has developed tremendously over the years and now manufactures not only infantry weapons but also airplanes, helicopters, submarines, and ships.
The former president is a veteran of the Korean War that broke out in 1950. He had just graduated from the US West Point when he volunteered for combat duty during the Korean War.
It was in Korea where he had his baptism of fire, when he led his troops of the 20th Battalion Combat Team of the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea that conquered the strategic Eerie Hill following fierce fighting with Chinese forces.
The Philippines bought 12 FA-50 jetfighters from South Korea to replace the aging F-5 supersonic fighter jets of the Philippine Air Force in 2005.
South Korea completed the delivery of the airplanes early last year.
The arrival of the FA-50 was timely just before the Marawi siege broke out when more than a thousand Islamic State-inspired terrorists occupied the Philippine southern city in May 2017.
Philippine Air Force (PAF) pilots of the FA-50 blasted with accuracy the heavily-armed terrorist group hiding inside concrete buildings in Marawi City with hundreds of civilian captives they used as human shields.
It may be recalled that for more than a decade following the retirement of the US-made F-5s, the PAF had no jetfighter patrolling the Philippine airspace to intercept hostile aircraft entering the country until the Air Force got the FA-50 from South Korea in 2016.
The South Korean supersonic combat aircraft was developed by Korea Aerospace Industries in partnership with Lockheed Martin of the United States.
The PAF is also utilizing the FA-50 as a trainer for its pilot as it is one of the world’s supersonic jet trainers.
The “Undying Service to the Filipino” is a joint project of RPDev Foundation and the Manila Bulletin.
Among those who attended the book launch were Jun Icban, Manila Bulletin editor-in-chief; Ching Suva, Manila Bulletin vice president for public relations; former Interior secretary Raffy Alunan; former ombudsman Aniceto Desierto; former executive secretary Ed Ermita;, former trade secretary Ernie Ordoñez; and former Constabulary chief Gen. Ramon Montaño. (PNA)