MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said his government is eyeing the acquisition of 23 new attack helicopters to boost the capability of the military.
Duterte said acquiring new air assets would help the Philippines deal with terrorism and rebellion.
“Meron tayong acquisition na 23 attack helicopters. ‘Yun supisyente (sufficient) na ‘yon for a --- ‘yung mga rebellion-rebellion lang,” Duterte said in a speech in front of wounded soldiers at the Army General Hospital in Taguig City.
The President said he would ask military officials to scout for the new helicopters and other military equipment. He also reiterated his vow not to purchase secondhand hardware.
“I am ordering new ones para pangpalit doon sa inyo. Alam ko nagrereklamo kayo sa barrel pati vault. Baka in the next few months… I am in a hurry, nagmamadali ako. May papuntahin akong mga opisyal ng militar doon sa ibang lugar para mag-negotiate kaagad,” he said.
“Kung mahirapan tayong maghingi, nakakahiya naman palagi sige hingi, mag-utang tayo, payable in 25 years ng soft loan ng armas.”
The President has been repeatedly expressing his desire to leave a “strong military” after his 6-year presidency, especially in the wake of the Marawi siege, which tested Filipino troops in urban warfare.
“I will build a strong military, dahan-dahan. Talagang strong na strong. At after five years, four years from now, ‘yun na lang naiwan sa termino ko, baka modern na tayo,” he said.
“Pero mag-aral kayo ng bagong doctrine, how to fight in the urban areas. ‘Yan ang bago ngayon.”
Duterte visited the Army General Hospital to confer on 26 soldiers the Order of Lapu-Lapu. Twenty of the soldiers were wounded during the Marawi siege while the rest were wounded in clashes with rebels from the New People’s Army and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
Established by Duterte in April, the Order of Lapu-Lapu is an award given to officials and personnel of government as well as private individuals “in recognition of their invaluable or extraordinary service in relation to a campaign or advocacy of the President.”