Duterte says pandemic, disasters show need for 'unyielding' AFP modernization

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 21 2020 07:28 PM

Duterte says pandemic, disasters show need for 'unyielding' AFP modernization 1
President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a message in Trece Martires City, Cavite on Dec. 3, 2020. Karl Norman Alonzo, Presidential Photo

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated on Monday his "unyielding commitment" to modernize the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), which he said was key to the country's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and a recent spate of calamities.

In a speech at the AFP's 85th anniversary celebration, Duterte said the military “fought proudly at the frontlines alongside the valiant health workers” and faced disasters “bravely.”

The AFP allowed the government to “to stay on top of the situation and maintain order,” said its Commander-in-Chief.

“The trials we faced this year underscore the need to make the AFP more responsive to the most challenging of situations. I therefore reiterate my unyielding commitment to pursue the full implementation of the AFP Modernization Program,” Duterte said.

“We will continue to enhance your skills through capacity-building initiatives and the procurement of modern equipment that will enable you to fulfill your mandate with the highest degree of expertise and professionalism,” he added.

The county’s defense capability is “60 percent at par” with its Southeast Asian, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Gilbert Gapay earlier said.

Gapay cited as example the Navy’s missile frigates and a corvette used to patrol territorial waters. The military may also get multi-role fighters before Duterte’s term ends in 2022, said the general.

“But once iyong mga nasa modernization pipeline ay ma-deliver na, medyo paparehas na tayo,” he said in a public briefing earlier this month.

(Once those in the modernization pipeline are delivered, we will be in the same level.)