MANILA - President Aquino has approved the Armed Forces modernization program's shopping list, allowing the procurement of defense assets to move forward.
The President signed the program last July 22, Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo told The STAR yesterday.
He said all but three of the upgrade projects in the shopping list have secured Aquino’s approval.
The three projects that are still being reviewed are the designated marksman rifles, the standard weapons system and the project that would have replaced the shore-based missile system whose procurement schedule was moved to a later date.
“These projects were not disapproved. They just need some clarifications,” Manalo said.
The big-ticket items approved by Aquino include the two Navy frigates worth P18 billion, three air surveillance radars worth P2.68 billion, six close air support aircraft worth P4.97 billion, two units of long range patrol aircraft worth P5.98 billion, multi-purpose attack craft project worth P864.32 million, night fighting system worth P1.116 billion; two C-130 aircraft worth P1.6 billion, two naval helicopters worth P5.4 billion and lead-in fighter trainer jets ammunition worth P4.47 billion.
The shopping list also includes four basing support system and logistics projects with a total budget of P2.15 billion. These projects aim to improve existing military facilities in key areas.
Other items in the list include Army radios, thermal imaging device, field ambulance units, armored personnel carriers, flight simulators, amphibious assault vehicles, combat systems, light utility vehicles and engineering equipment.
The modernization program submitted to the President is worth more than P60 billion.
“The approval of the program will raise the level of capability of the Armed Forces and will help our troops perform their duty, including rescuing those who are in need in times of calamities,” Manalo said in Filipino.
Defense Assistant Secretary Efren Fernandez gave assurance that the procurement of the military equipment would comply with existing regulations to avoid anomalies.
“We will see to it that the requirements will be followed. The procurement will be transparent. That has been our marching order from the start,” Fernandez said in a separate interview.
South Korea defense minister’s visit
Meanwhile, the modernization of the Philippine military is expected to be tackled during the meeting of Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and visiting South Korean defense minister Han Minkoo today.
Han will visit Camp Aguinaldo to affirm the security ties between South Korea and the Philippines, which is now embroiled in a territorial row with China.
“The visit aims to strengthen the relationship of the Philippines and South Korea. They have been our partners in the modernization (of the military),” Defense department spokesman Peter Galvez said in a phone interview.
“We view them as our close allies,” he added.
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