CLARK AIR BASE, Pampanga: President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Monday vowed a stronger, well-equipped and modern Air Force before his term ends in 2016.
In his speech during the anniversary of the Philippine Air Force (PAF), President Aquino said the government will acquire more air assets such as lead-in fighters, long-range patrol aircraft, close air support aircraft, light-lift fixed-wing aircraft, medium-lift aircraft, attack helicopters and combat utility helicopters, air defense radar, and flight simulators.
He said P75 billion had been allotted for national defense in the next five years.
“I believe: With the government’s efforts to modernize your equipment as well as renewed pride and confidence of the people in our soldiers, the Philippine Air Force can deliver sky-high public service,” Aquino said, addressing his audience in Filipino.
He said PAF, which was one of the best in the region in the 1960s, had been neglected by previous leaders.
”If in 1963 we had the capability of helping and sending squadrons to other countries, why does it seem that our Air Force had broken wings in the last decade?,” Aquino said.
The President said the military would have to acquire new aircraft because “we cannot rely forever on the rehabilitation and repair of equipment.”
”Every time a PAF plane goes up in the air, the integrity of the plane, the mission and the lives of the pilots are on the line,” he said
He cited, for instance, the Air Force OV-10 Bronco plane that crashed in the waters off Puerto Princesa City in Palawan province.
”We want to avoid these incidents from the start. That’s why we are focused on the modernization of our national defense,” he added.
At the same time, the President lauded PAF for its achievements and the “efficient” use of its budget.
”Because of the good and cost-efficient administration of your budget according to the Department of Budget and Management, the financial obligation efficiency of the Air Force hit 99.6 percent,” he said.
Aquino commended Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and PAF chief Lt. Gen. Lauro dela Cruz.
“Today we are strengthening the capability of the Air Force. The people expects nothing but your integrity to fulfill your duties,” he said.
This year’s anniversary theme is “Makabagong Lakas, Matatag na Bukas.”