Opposition lawmakers have cautioned the Aquino administration against purchasing Korean fighter jets amid the repair and rehabilitation efforts in earthquake-stricken Cebu and Bohol provinces.
Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez of Leyte, leader of the Independent bloc in the House of Representatives, was referring to the Palace’s planned acquisition of 12 brand-new squadron FA-50
fighter jets worth P18.9 billion from the state-owned Korea Aerospace Industries Inc. (KAI).
“While we understand the need to upgrade the Philippine Air Force’s (PAF) capability, we must prioritize the interest of tens of thousands of people who have been affected by the earthquake. We ask the Aquino administration to defer its procurement of jets and use the funds for the rehabilitation of the earthquake-ravaged areas,” Romualdez said.
Another opposition lawmaker, Rep. Carol Jayne Lopez of Youth Against Corruption and Poverty party-list, agreed with Romualdez by citing that the P18.9 billion budget for the purchase of airplanes can already do so much in rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of the earthquake.
“It is true that we need to beef up our naval and aerial defenses, but no matter how many billions we put into it, we are no match for China,” Lopez said in a separate talk.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd revealed the planned procurement of the 12 brand-new multirole combat aircraft when he met with South Korean President Park Geun-hye at the Blue House, South Korea’s seat of power, during his two-day state visit there last week.
The KAI-made FA-50 is a combat aircraft capable of carrying up to 4.5 tons of weapons, namely air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, machine guns and precision guided bombers, among others.
The FA-50 is also equipped with a night vision imaging system with day and night capability.
Rep. Luz Ilagan of Gabriela party-list, for her part, stressed that the purchase of the said jets is a waste of public funds.
“The plan will only provoke China from taking further bolder steps in the West Philippine Sea,” Ilagan said in closing. LLANESCA T. PANTI