The Philippines is buying two refurbished C-130 transport planes to add to the three being used for the relief and rehabilitation efforts in areas damaged by Super typhoon Yolanda.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin told reporters the government will buy the C-130 planes as soon as the supplemental budget for the agency is approved.
“We will buy two C-130 planes to augment our three C-130s. But these are already old and refurbished,” Gazmin said.
He said the current C-130s are overused given the scale of the operations in Visayas–particularly Leyte and Samar–the region that was battered by Yolanda and a 7.2 magnitude quake in October.
The secretary said buying brand-new planes is not a priority at this time because the country cannot afford the tag price.
A new C-130 costs $50 million or P2.2 billion each.
“But definitely we need more [C-130s],” Gazmin said.
The Air Force is down to three functioning C-130 from a high of 18. It will cost around P500 million to fix the non-functioning planes.
The Department of National Defense proposed P11.5 billion supplemental budget for Phase 1 and 2 of the rehabilitation of the areas destroyed by the recent natural calamities and the attack on Zamboanga City by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in September.
Although they might need more, Gazmin said that it is already the maximum funding that they can ask for.
“That is already the maximum. But if there is an elbow room for it, we definitely need more,” he said.
Gazmin cannot say if how much, ideally, the military will need for the rehabilitation.
“I will ask our financial experts first,” he said.