Aquino: Modernizing AFP not meant to heighten tension in region

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III said on Thursday that his administration's efforts to further modernize the military were not meant to increase tension in the region amid the Philippine territorial dispute with China.

Aquino said that for the past four years, his government has released more than P40 billion to modernize and upgrade the capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, much higher compared to the P26 billion that his predecessor released in a span of nearly 10 years.

"Lest anyone accuse us of shifting to a more militaristic position, I must emphasize: Our efforts seek to modernize the capabilities of our security sector is to address the needs in human disaster response arenas and for our own internal defense. None of these actions are meant to increase tensions in the region; rather, they are meant to address our domestic problems and issues," he said in a speech at the Asian Defense, Security, and Crisis Management Exhibition 2014 held at World Trade Center in Pasay City.

The Philippines is currently engaged in a tensed territorial row with China over the islands, atolls, cays, shoals and reefs believed to be rich in oil and minerals in the South China Sea.

The Chief Executive cited some of the aircraft and other equipment that his administration has acquired to modernize the military.

Among them were the eight Sokol Combat Utility Helicopters, three AW-109 naval helicopters, four refurbished UH-1 helicopters, and the BRP Tagbanua, the first locally built landing craft utility ship.

The AFP has also already received the first batch of the new M4 Caliber 5.56mm rifles, and by the end of this year, the government expects that all 50,629 units it bought will have been distributed, he said.

"And might I add: because of our fair and transparent procurement process, we have saved 1.2 billion pesos on these rifles, which has allowed us to order another 12,657 M4s, and to set aside a budget for succeeding rifle procurements," he said.

Aquino said the administration also looks forward to the arrival of two out of 12 FA-50 lead-in fighter trainer jets next year, with the others all arriving before 2017.

"Apart from these, we are expecting seventeen more refurbished UH-1 helicopters, eight more combat utility helicopters, two long-range patrol aircraft, six close-air support aircraft, two anti-submarine helicopters, two frigates, and three full missile capable multi-purpose attack crafts, along with other equipment that will strengthen the capacities of our armed forces," he said. (SDR/Sunnex)

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