It doesn’t take a rocket genius to figure out that a disaster-prone archipelago like the Philippines needs airlift capability, Senate President Pro Tempore, Ralph Recto said on Monday.
Recto urged the government to earmark P1.5 billion in the 2014 national budget for more C-130 planes as according to him, they “have proven their mettle by flying relief sorties in the aftermath of typhoon ‘Yolanda’”.
The country currently owns three “mission capable” C-130s, according to the Philippine Air Force (PAF).
“If we set aside P1.5 billion in next year’s budget, then we will be able to double the number of our C-130 fleet. And that is a very wise investment the country should make,” Recto said in a statement.
Recto explained that cost of refurbishing one mothballed C-130 in the Philippine Air Force inventory is P500 million.
He further said that by repairing an “unserviceable” C-130 in the PAF stock even at a cost of P500 million each, is cheaper than buying a brand new C-130 which has a current price tag of US$ 50 million or P2.2 billion.
Government should not rule out buying brand new C-130s if there is enough funds for it and if that is what the PAF would recommend after technical review, Recto said.
By using multi-year budgeting approach (payment will be spread out in years), the government can raise the amount for at least two brand new C-130s, he added.
“It was the first plane to land in Tacloban after Yolanda laid waste to it. Since then the C-130s have conducted almost round-the-clock humanitarian airlift,” Recto said.
Furthermore, he noted that the C-130s were also among the first responders to the Bohol earthquake and the Zamboanga was under siege and kept supplying fresh troops and supplies, sometimes delivering then under enemy fire.
“The recent tragic events have proven one indisputable point: C-130s are essential transport,” Recto explained.
“They should be high up in the list of disaster response equipment. Their purchase should be part of disaster preparation,” he added. PNA