MALACAñANG on Monday gave the assurance that 12 South Korean-made fighter jets will be delivered soon to beef up the Philippine Air Force’s (PAF) capability as the P18.9 billion for the acquisition of the aircraft was released recently.
Its spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the good news will be announced by President Benigno Aquino 3rd in today’s 67th anniversary celebration of the Air Force.
The announcement will be a reiteration of that made by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin last week.
“As a matter of fact, the Department of Budget and Management has just released a Special Allotment Release Order [SARO] for the implementation of this P18.9-billion project. With this, we can only expect the PAF to further improve its capacity to carry out its mandate as the ‘First Force,’ not only in times of calamity but also in times of stability,” Lacierda said in a statement.
He added that Aquino, as the Commander-in-Chief, will give thanks to the men and women of the Air Force, and will speak about additional capability enhancements that the administration is undertaking to enable the uniformed services to effectively meet the challenges of their responsibilities.
Part of the modernization efforts of the Air Force is the acquisition of 12 FA-50 trainer fighter jets from South Korea.
“From its early days as the logistical air unit of the Armed Forces, to its days as one of the most formidable air forces in the region in the 1960s and 1970s, until its further development to the present day, the Air Force has continually striven to uphold the interests of the Filipino public,” Lacierda said.
The Philippine government and Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. (KAI) last March signed the contract for the procurement of the 12 fighter jets, so far the biggest item in the military’s upgrade program.
Primarily, these jets will be used to enhance the country’s territorial defense in light of tensions in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
The delivery of the FA-50s will start 18 months after the opening of the letter of credit, which assures that the Philippine government will pay for its obligations. All aircraft would be in by 2017, or a year after Aquino bows out of office.
Also on Monday, Lacierda said the administration observed Aquino’s fourth year in office, adding that they “have remained focused on the commitments we outlined in our social contract with Filipinos.”
“This modernization effort, along with the many programs and projects of the Aquino administration that focus on building confidence in our economy and expanding the scope of our social services, forms part of a holistic strategy to make the change brought about by good governance irreversible, lasting and truly inclusive,” the official added.
“In the remaining two years of the administration, the President and his team will continue the active pursuit of a Philippines where no one is left behind, capitalizing on the many significant gains we have collectively achieved. As such, we are all reminded that the task of nation-building is not left to the government alone, and that each of us must put our country above ourselves as we work toward realizing our shared aspiration [of]a truly just and equitable society,” Lacierda said.