Lack of funds restricts AFP modernization

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 17 2015 05:09 PM | Updated as of Aug 18 2015 01:09 AM

MANILA - Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Monday called for patience in the implementation of the AFP modernization program, saying the program is constrained by meager financial resources.

In a speech, Gazmin said the country needs to persevere and be contented with what it can afford.

"The goal of upgrading and modernizing our Armed Forces is a long and painstaking process. This is so, because the acquisition cost of our minimum requirements on materials and equipment for operational readiness are constrained by our financial capability," he said.

He added: "We have to be frugal and acquire reliable platforms at very reasonable costs possible as allowed by our meager financial resources."

Gazmin made the statement as he led the acceptance of eight combat utility and two attack helicopters from foreign suppliers in rites held at the Air Force headquarters in Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.

Most of the assets that have been delivered to the Armed Forces under its modernization program are for internal security operations and for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.

Only a few of them are designed for external defense, particularly the two former US Coast Guard cutters, now named BRP Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz which are used to patrol the disputed areas in the South China Sea.

Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado said the Air Force is still far from the "minimum credible posture" that they want to achieve.

Gazmin and Delgado led the acceptance of eight Bell-214EP combat utility helicopters and two AW-109E attack helicopters acquired from the Canadian Commercial Corporation and Anglo-Italian Agusta Westland.

The eight Bell-214EPs were acquired from the Canadian company for P4.8 billion. Meanwhile, the two AW-109Es represent the initial delivery of eight attack helicopters being acquired for P3.4 billion.

The aircraft were later turned over to the Air Force units who will be operating these assets, after which they were blessed by military priests.