By Ben Cal
The government has set aside for 2018 some P25 billion for the modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that will include the acquisition of brand new attack helicopters, tanks and other military hardware.
Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., AFP deputy chief of staff for plans and programs, said the acquisition of new military hardware is long overdue for the country’s national security.
For several years now, the 1995 AFP modernization has been at snail paced because of budgetary constraint.
Padilla told the Philippine News Agency Sunday that the P25 billion for the AFP’s modernization program is allocated in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) for 2018.
Padilla said that President Rodrigo R. Duterte is giving top priority of the AFP’s modernization program during his term of office.
He pointed out that the modernization program has been long overdue.
Padilla also assured that all transactions or dealings in the acquisition of new military equipment will be above board as ordered by the President.
He said the President is keen on the modernization program so that the Philippines will earn the respect of other nations.
At the same time, he said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and AFP chief of staff Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero have given their full support to the military’s modernization program.
Out of the P25 billion for 2018 the AFP will procure brand new attack and utility helicopters for the Philippine Air Force (PAF) and tanks for the Philippine Army, Padilla said.
He said other armaments will also be in the acquired to modernize the AFP.
The PAF has recently acquired a dozen brand new FA-50 jets acquired from South Korea at a cost of P18.9 billion.
But this is still a far cry from its inventory years back when PAF was second to none in Southeast Aisa in defense capability with squadrons of jet fighters such as F-5s, F-8s and Sabre jets, but all of these warplanes have been retired long ago.
There was also a time when the PAF had in its inventory over 140 helicopters but this had had drastically reduced over the years due to wear and tear.
PAF pilots are looking forward that the Air Force will soon buy supersonic jet fighters boost the air defense capability of the Armed Forces.
Aside from planes acquisition, the Philippine Navy is also in dire need of buying brand new ships to secure the country’s long sea lane which is twice as long as that of the United States.
The Navy used to have a large number of ships but through the years many of them have been mothballed due to old age.