Isabela Representative Rodolfo “Rodito” T. Albano III on Thursday expressed full support to the decision of defense and military officials to set aside the planned acquisition of the Php6.5-billion missile system from Israel for the Philippine Army and use the fund instead for essential battlefield equipment, weapons and engineering brigade logistics.
Albano, member for the Minority Bloc of the House committee on National Defense and Security, said Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. and Army chief Lt. Gen. Hernando Iriberri made a wise move to cancel the purchase of missiles from Israel in favor of purchasing essential battlefield gear such as helmets, body armor, weapons and night vision goggles for the 85,000-strong command and soldiers of the Philippine Army.
“We need to prioritize the purchase of essential military equipment which are needed most, rather than high-priced military hardware like the expensive ‘Israeli missiles,” Albano said.
While he acknowledged the need for the military to counter all threats to national security and peace and order, including the expansionist threats of China in the South China Sea to the chain of islets belonging to the republic, the veteran solon stressed the need for the AFP to be better equipped so it could effectively deal with the present internal threats posed by terrorist groups, especially in Mindanao.
The Ilokano solon said the military frontline against insurgency coming from Muslim separatist groups and the communist New People’s Army (NPA) requires better and superior military equipment for the individual protection of our fighting forces.
“It was a wise move to shelve the purchase of expensive military hardware like the Israeli-made missile systems because aside from new battlefield hardware and weapons, the DND and the AFP would be able to provide military engineering battalions and brigades additional resources to implement more development projects in the countryside like the reconstruction of damaged school buildings and health centers, construction of water systems, roads and bridges and help provide livelihood -skills training programs in strife-torn provinces,” as he stressed that “war with China will never happen.”
Albano, House contingent head for the Minority Bloc of the Commission on Appointments, said the role of Filipino soldier in development work would help address the root causes of insurgency, such as poverty, underdevelopment and the lack of basic public services, in rural areas.