PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd on Thursday led the distribution of newly acquired assault rifles to military personnel as part of the government’s efforts to modernize the Armed For ces.
Aquino, himself a gun enthusiast, handed the brand new M4 rifles to military officers in turnover ceremonies at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) General Headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
In his speech, the President said the military can now depend on their guns, not just their guts, in serving and protecting the state.
Illustrating the military’s poor defense capability, Aquino recalled a story shared to him by Marines guarding the Kalayaan Island Group.
He said there was an instance when the soldiers were forced to paint a coconut trunk black to deceive their enemies, who were pointing real cannons at them.
“Sa pagtitipon natin ngayon, pinapatunayan nating tapos na ang panahon kung saan dinadaan na lang sa tibay ng loob at diskarte ang pagtutupad sa tungkulin—tunay ngang kinakalinga ng estado ang mga kawal ng bayan [As we gather today, we are proving that the time of pulling off determination and guile in doing the job has ended – truly the state is taking care of the soldier of the people], ” he said.
So far, the government has acquired 50,629 assault rifles for the AFP. The first batch of 27,300 rifles was delivered in July, while the remaining 23,329 units will be delivered in December this year.
The acquisition of new firearms is part of the Joint Philippine Army–Philippine Marine Corps Assault Rifle Acquisition Project under the AFP Modernization Program.
Under the project, the AFP will receive a total of 50,629 units of M4 rifles, 44,186 of which will go to the Army and 6,443 to the Navy.
Due to a transparent bidding process, Aquino said his administration was able to generate an estimated P1.2 billion savings from the project.
The approved budget for the contract was about P3.19 billion but the government acquired the rifles for only P1.94 billion.
The President said the savings will be used to procure another 12,657 assault rifles for the Philippine Army, to be delivered also in December.
The budget for the acquisition of rifles was sourced from the AFP Capability Upgrade Program, which was organized in 2012.