P25 B set aside for 2018 AFP modernization program

MANILA — The government has set aside for 2018 some PHP25 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 was long overdue for the country’s national security.

For several years now since the enactment of the AFP Modernization Act in 1995, the AFP modernization has been at snail pace because of budgetary constraints.

Padilla told the Philippine News Agency Sunday that the amount for the AFP’s modernization program was allocated in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) for 2018.

Padilla said President Rodrigo Roa Duterte was giving top priority to the AFP’s modernization program during his term of office.

He pointed out that the modernization program was long overdue.

Padilla also assured the public that all transactions or dealings in the acquisition of new military equipment would be above board.

He said the President was keen on the modernization program so that the Philippines would 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 gave their full support to the military’s modernization program.

Out of the PHP25 billion for 2018, the AFP would 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 would be acquired also to modernize the AFP.

The PAF had recently acquired a dozen brand new FA-50 jets from South Korea for PHP18.9 billion.

But this was 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 had been retired long ago.

There was also a time when the PAF had in its inventory over 140 helicopters but had drastically reduced over the years due to wear and tear.

PAF pilots are looking forward to an Air Force that will soon acquire supersonic jet fighters to boost the air defense capability of the Armed Forces.

Aside from planes acquisition, the Philippine Navy is also in dire need of 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. (PNA)