The online news portal of TV5
MANILA, Philippines - The Department of National Defense (DND) is fast-tracking the approval of 138 contracts for the modernization and upgrade of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as it recognized the "extreme necessity" to improve military equipment to protect national territory.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the deadline for the approval of the contracts is on July 31.
Speaking during the 65th anniversary of the Philippine Air Force in Lipa City, Batangas, Gazmin said the contracts include the acquisition of surface attack aircraft, lead-in fighter trainer plane, attack helicopters, light transport aircraft and medium transport aircraft. These are all expected to be delivered in a span of two years. Meanwhile, four multi-purpose combat utility helicopters (Sokol) are also scheduled to be delivered within the year.
Gazmin said the new acquisitions will remove the impression that the country's Air Force is "all air devoid of force."
"The vital and expeditious goal of modernizing our Air Force and our Armed Forces, for that matter, has been the serious concern of our national leadership. This has become a must in our pursuit of many
operational plans and endeavors for internal peace, security and stability. Our extreme necessity to modernize is likewise meant to address the primordial constitutional duty of our armed forces to
'secure the sovereignty of the state and the integrity of the national territory,'" Gazmin said in his speech.
The Philippines is locked in a territorial dispute with China over at Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal. Despite sorely lacking in equipment as compared to China's strong military, Gazmin said, the AFP did not waver in its duty to fulfill its mandate.
"Our Air Force has been humbly devoting its very limited resources in support of the constitutional duty of our armed forces, to protect our people and secure the sovereignty of our state and the integrity of our national territory," he said.
Not only does the military protect our territorial security, Gazmin said soldiers also provide assistance in search, rescue and rehabilitation missions during calamities.
"Nevertheless, the job of the Philippine Air Force cannot be done by the determination and enthusiasm of our Air Force personnel alone. We need to have potent and reliable air platforms for our air skippers
and crew to operate and fly," he acknowledged.