The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will continue to acquire equipment to enable the military to go after militants, particularly members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), incoming AFP chief Lt. Gen. Ricardo Visaya said Thursday.
Visaya explained that President-elect Rodrigo Duterte considered the acquisition of 12 FA-50 fighter jets a “waste of money” because he wants to give priority to internal security.
But even if Duterte had expressed his desire to acquire war materiel that can be used in addressing internal security threats such as the Abu Sayyaf, Visaya said there will be no revision of the AFP modernization program.
He said the military equipment on the list of the incoming Commander-in-Chief are helicopters with nigh-fighting capabilities and fast vessels that can be extensively used in going after the jihadists whose strongholds are in the island of Jolo in Sulu and Basilan province.
Had the military acquired these equipment, security forces could have intercepted the militants when they snatched Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall and Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad and Filipina Marites Flor from the Island Garden City of Samal in September last year, Visaya said. Hall and Ridsdel were executed on June 13 and April 25, 2016 respectively.
“Ang gusto nya (Duterte) may mga night fighting capabilities, so ito muna bago mag-external (He wants night fighting capabilities, so we will prioritize this). So it (AFP modernization) will be continued. That is part of modernization of the AFP modernization,” Visaya said.
Duterte earlier noted that the FA-50 fighter jets may have little or no use at all in addressing the insurgency problem.
The delivery of the first batch of TWO FA-50 fighter jets is part of the Air Force modernization program. The remaining 10 fighter jets will be delivered in batches up to 2017.