MANILA — President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. on Friday vowed to prioritize enhancing the capacity of the country's Air Force, as it celebrated its 75th founding anniversary.
In his speech, Marcos emphasized the importance of improving the country's air capabilities, which the government uses for relief operations during calamities, disasters, and for protecting the nation from extremist groups.
"They shall be equipped with more state-of-the-art fighter planes and armed with more firepower," said Marcos, the Armed Forces ncommander-in-chief.
"The enhancement of the PAF's capabilities is one of the top priorities of this administration," his message read.
During his speech, he thanked the previous administration for continuing PAF's modernization.
He also recognized the efforts of PAF's personnel in defending the country's airspace.
"The ongoing defense modernization efforts is in coordination with the basic prerequisites that would complement this administration's vision for a stronger, bigger, and effective air force capable of defending and maintaining our sovereign state and of assisting our people in times of dire consequences and today's reality that this dictates," Marcos said during the event in Clark, Pampanga.
"A more modern, aerial, and surveillance capability is all the more felt given the territorial disputes that we in the Philippines are involved in," he added.
The Philippines has been upgrading its military assets amid a territorial dispute with China over Beijing's expansive claims in the South China Sea.
The Philippine military was one of the most poorly equipped in Asia when former President Benigno Aquino III began a modest modernization program in 2012.
PAF in late March received 1 of 3 new C-295 medium -ift airplanes. Airbus said in April that the country would receive the rest of it in the coming months.
The C-295 maritime patrol aircraft is equipped with Airbus’ state-of-the-art mission system – Fully Integrated Tactical System (FITS) and comprehensive sensor suites.
Airbus had said the country's Air Force uses its fleet of C-295 extensively for humanitarian and airlift missions across the archipelago, especially in recent times supporting COVID-19 aid and disaster reliefs.
Video from PCOO