President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Friday emphasized the importance of repair and maintenance of military assets as he inspected two C-130T aircraft that had been overhauled and upgraded.
The two units, worth $55.60 million, were acquired from the United States under the Excess Defense Articles (EDA) program.
This developed as Speaker Martin G. Romualdez assured the Armed Forces of the Philippines on Thursday night of the continued support of the House of Representatives for its modernization program.
He made the assurance during the House of Representatives-AFP fellowship series in Cebu City, which was attended by high-rankingmilitary officers led by Chief of Staff Gen. Andres Centino and other House members.
“Maintenance and repair are key aspects of our operations as well as important decision points in the acquisition of additional assets,” Mr. Marcos said during the inspection at the Haribon Hangar in Clark Air Base, Pampanga.
“I therefore direct the Philippine Air Force and the AFP (Armed Forcesof the Philippines) to continue developing your capabilities for conducting maintenance and repair to keep all our military assets ready to go,” the President said.
Mr. Marcos told the troops to conduct routine checkups and to undertake regular aircraft engineering services to ensure safetyrequirements are met, and to provide extensive training to those whowill be flying and testing the aircraft.
He emphasized the key role aircraft play in times of calamity and emergencies.
“We must be able to assess and to be able to respond quickly,” the President said.
“We cannot afford to waste any time in the mission to save lives, therefore the existence of these air assets is crucial to ensure thatinformation, aid, and responders are made available to effectively help affected areas,” he said.
The Philippines procured the C-130 aircraft with tail numbers 5011 and 5040 in 2016 and sent them for “extensive repair and maintenance” last year, the PAF said.
The EDA Program enables the United States to meet foreign policyobjectives while simultaneously supporting its allies by improving their defense capabilities.
Meanwhile, the Speaker said the reconciled bill on the fixed term ofthe chief of staff and other officers would ensure balance, continuity, and professionalism in the AFP leadership.
“The House of Representatives is committed to modernizing the ArmedForces of the Philippines as it is crucial to our nation’s sovereignty and security,” he told his military audience.
“Our military should be equipped with the latest technological advances and training to respond to the continuing threats that we face,” Romualdez said.
He said proposals to amend RA (Republic Act) 11709, which fixes theterms of military officers, have been ratified.
The House leader pointed out that the amendatory bill would pave the way for “a regular turnover of leadership, (which) is essential to maintaining a healthy and professional Armed Forces that isaccountable to the people it serves.”
“Regular turnover can ensure that new ideas and perspectives are constantly being introduced and that there is a healthy culture of competition and meritocracy within the Armed Forces,” he said.
Under the bill amending RA 11709, the chief of staff would still enjoya fixed tenure of three years unless sooner replaced by the President, as the current law provides. (See full story online at manilastandard.net)
However, the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Philippine Military Academy chiefs would have a shorter tour of duty of two years.
The retirement age of AFP personnel would be increased by one year to 57 years.
In his remarks, Speaker Romualdez stressed the role of the AFP in attaining national peace, stability, and prosperity.
Also on Friday, the Department of National Defense (DND) and thePhilippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) urged the public, especially the youth, to participate in this year’s Philippine Veterans Week (PVW) from April 5 to 12.
This is in line with the nation’s observance of the 81st anniversary of the “Araw ng Kagitingan” (Day of Valor) on April 10.
A series of commemorative and special events will be held to memorialize the valor and heroic deeds of Filipino veterans, the DND and PVAO said in a joint statement on Friday.