Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has assured and explained the public that the Duterte administration would pursue the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) 15-year modernization program as scheduled.
Lorenzana, a retired Army major general who replaced Voltaire Gazmin said, “the AFP modernization program will continue as planned and scheduled.”
He said, the Department of National Defense (DND) would focus to resolve the internal security problems first by acquiring additional military equipment to boost military capabilities in addressing internal conflicts.
President Duterte’s order to him is to first focus on stamping out the kidnap-for-ransom operations of the Abu Sayyaf bandits in Mindanao and the military needs of modern helicopters and fast-attack craft to accomplish the mission.
Lorenzana told correspondents last Friday at a welcome ceremony for the new DND chief in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City that “Territorial defense is one of the priorities of the Duterte administration. It is imperative as we have to secure our territories against encroachment by other parties.”
Initially propelled amid the Arroyo administration, the AFP modernization program hit an obstacle taking after a choice by the political and military leaders than to downsize the nation’s territorial defense in order for the AFP to concentrate more on dealing with threats to internal security.
The AFP modernization program at the time of President Benigno Aquino III’s was restored with the rebuilding of the country’s external defense capability in the wake of China’s aggressive activities in disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea.
The AFP had obtained the following military assets two Hamilton-class cutters and two strategic sealift vessels (SSVs), 114 armored personnel carriers, six multi-purpose assault craft, two C-130 transport plane, three c295 medium lift aircraft, one squadron South Korean-made FA-50 light-interim supersonic fighter aircraft, five utility-attack version of the AgustaWestland AW-109 helicopters, five landing craft heavies and three multipurpose attack craft.
The two units of FA-50s are currently being used to train Filipino fighter pilots while awaiting delivery of the remaining 10 supersonic fighter aircraft. while the first SSVs, BRP Tarlac, has been delivered while the second is expected to be delivered next year. – Jason E.