MANILA, Philippines - Army troops and Marines were given their new "spouses" yesterday -- new M4 assault rifles for their security operations.
The distribution of new rifles will allow the troops to “divorce” their antiquated M16s that saw action during the Vietnam War in 1960s and 1970s.
The new rifles were distributed yesterday in a ceremony led by President Aquino in Camp Aguinaldo.
“I think our troops’ morale will become high because these rifles serve as their spouses when they are in combat,” Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang Jr. said.
“It really makes a difference if you are confident that you have a good firearm and you are also competent. If you combine all these, you are assured that you can fight whatever enemy you will confront,” he added.
Catapang said the last recorded procurement of military rifles was from 1974 to 1978.
“Since then there was no major acquisition of rifles,” Catapang said.
Aquino said the purchase of the new assault rifles was made possible by good governance.
“The proofs of meaningful reforms are very visible,” the President said in Filipino.
“Nothing is bogus here. There are no speculations and nothing is invented. All these are concrete reforms,” he added.
Aquino said the sorry state of military equipment in the past had forced soldiers to improvise.
He said there was a time when Marines guarding the Kalayaan Island Group in West Philippine Sea had to use a coconut tree trunk that they painted black to make it appear that they have cannons.
Aquino said he had also seen a video showing a soldier putting oil on his rusty firearm to make it work.
“Through good governance, we will be able to address problems like this,” he said.
The government has acquired 50,629 units of M4 rifles from American firearms manufacturer Remington Outdoor Co. for P1.9 billion, lower than the approved budget of P3.3 billion.
Officials said 44,186 rifles would be given to the Army while 6,443 will be distributed to the Marines.
A total of 27,200 of these rifles were delivered last month while the rest will arrive in December.
The M4 Carbine is a lighter and shorter variant of the M16A2 assault rifle. The two have roughly 80 percent of their parts in common. The M4 rifle, however, is more cost efficient and can be used for close quarter combat.
The government plans to buy more than 12,639 rifles from the P1.2-billion savings generated from the project.