President Aquino vows more quality defense material for AFP

Philippine News Agency – Realizing the need for equipped soldiery in defending the country’s territories and helping in disaster relief operations, President Benigno S. Aquino III in his fifth State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) vowed to further boost the acquisition of more modern and sophisticated equipment for the military.

He cited as example of this effort the acquisition of the following: Eight W3-A “Sokol” combat utility helicopters, Three AgustaWestland AW-109 “Power” helicopters, the first locally-made landing craft unit in the country BRP Tagbanua, Four refurbished UH-IH “Huey” helicopters, Two Hamilton-class cutters (Gregorio Del Pilar) class frigates, Activation of the state-of-the-art command center in Naval Forces West which is headquartered in Palawan.

The Chief Executive also added that next year, two of the 12 F/A-50 “Fighting Eagle” jet aircraft, ordered from South Korea, will be arrive, with the reminder to be delivered before the end of 2017.

The President also said that the country is targeting the delivery of eight Bell 412EP combat utility helicopters, two anti-submarine helicopters, 10 more AgustaWestland AW-109 “Power helicopters (eight for the Air Force and two more for the Navy), two light-lift aircraft, three medium lift aircraft, and additional radar systems.

The President also took this opportunity to announce that delivery of the 17 remaining refurbished UH-1H helicopters, out of the 21 ordered, will be completed this September.

Additional M-4 automatic rifles, of which 59,629 units, are expected to arrive this year.

The Chief Executive added that care and prudence in the acquisition of these weapons allowed the military to save P1.2 billion which will used to acquire more efficient and quality firearms.

Armed Forces of the Philippines public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said these efforts will make AFP more capable in its efforts in protecting the people and the country’s sovereignty.

“The AFP is grateful for President Benigno S. Aquino III’s unparalleled support for our modernization. Even before the AFP Modernization Program was enacted, his commitment to the upgrade of our assets, equipment, and personnel’s capability resulted in over P18-billion worth of projects being implemented,” he added.

Zagala said the AFP expresses its gratitude for this support.

“We like to assure not only the President but the Filipino people that your Armed Forces will continue its mission and its mandate in protecting the people and our sovereignty,” he pointed out.

“And we continue to believe that our Commander-in-Chief will lead the AFP to the right direction and will continue to give his unprecedented support to the AFP modernization,” Zagala added.

And on the successful defense of Zamboanga City last September which the Chief Executive lauded the military, Zagala said that it is the AFP’s mandate to defend the people from all threats.

“And the defense of Zamboanga City is a product of our collective desire to maintain the peace that our people rightfully deserve. We thank the President for his acknowledgement of our efforts to defend the City of Zamboanga and the freedom of its people from armed threats,” he pointed out.

Zagala also added that the AFP will uphold its commitment to international peace and security.

“Our role as peacekeepers in various volatile areas in the world manifests our support to our country’s commitment to the United Nations,” the AFP public affairs office chief concluded.

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