Military upgrade important, says Palace official

MANILA, Oct 22 (PNA) -- Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said on Thursday the government recognizes the importance of upgrading the Philippine military so it would be on a par with its counterparts in the world.

During a press briefing in Malacañang, the Palace official noted that 56 projects under the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program have been completed, compared to only 45 under the previous administrations.

"Sa simula’t sapul ay kinilala ng Aquino administration ang kahalagahan ng pagpapahusay sa mga kagamitan ng ating Sandatahang Lakas. Binanggit ni Pangulong Aquino sa kanyang huling State-of-the-Nation Address na sa ilalim ng kasalukuyang pamamahala, mayroong total of 56 projects sa AFP Modernization Program ang naipatupad at nakumpleto, kumpara sa 45 doon sa mga proyektong naisagawa noong mga nakaraang administrasyon," Secretary Coloma said when asked to comment on a recent report that the country's military ranks sixth in the list of the world’s worst armies.

The ranking was based on an online article posted by "We Are The Mighty," a group of former American soldiers who turned to the Internet to provide information to US servicemen.

In the same article, the group said "the Philippines' Naval and Air Forces are still nearly 60 years old and its ships are old US Coast Guards cutters."

The group's list ranked the Philippines behind Costa Rica, Iraq, North Korea, Eritrea, and Nigeria. At No. 7 is Tajikistan, followed by Mongolia, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan.

Coloma said President Aquino has already approved the purchase of items included in the second phase of the military upgrade.

"Nito lang nakaraang buwan, naiulat na sa mga pahayagan na inaprubahan ni Pangulong Aquino ‘yung mga items na mapapasama sa panibagong yugto ng AFP Modernization Act na naging batas noong December 2012. Mayroong, kumbaga, Phase II ng programang ito at nabanggit sa mga pahayagan na ang ilan sa mga big-ticket items ay ang mga sumusunod: dalawang navy frigates worth P18 billion, tatlong air surveillance radars worth P2.68 billion, anim na close air support aircraft worth P4.97 billion, two units of long-range patrol aircraft worth P5.98 billion, multipurpose attack craft project worth P864.32 million, night fighting system worth P1.116 billion, dalawang C-130 aircraft worth P1.6 billion, dalawang naval helicopters worth P5.4 billion, at lead-in fighter trainer jets ammunition worth P4.47 billion," the Palace official said.

Coloma also mentioned the purchase of fighter jets from South Korea.

"Batid po natin na sa kasalukuyan ay hinihintay ang delivery ng isang squadron — parang isang dosena yata ito — na mga fighter jets na galing sa Korea," he said.

He said the purchase of military equipment shows how the government is doing its best to improve the country's armed forces.

"Kaya makikita natin ang kongkretong manipestasyon ng ibayong pagsisikap na gawing moderno ang ating Sandatahang Lakas at ito ay pinapatunayan sa pamamagitan ng pagkuha ng mga pinakamodernong kagamitan na gagamitin ng ating army, navy, at air force," Coloma further said. (PNA)


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