Sunday, February 19, 2012

AFP modernization done in two years

MANILA, Philippines - The government can get the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) back on its feet in two years, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said yesterday.

“It won’t take until 2016,” Gazmin said on when the Filipino people could again be proud of its military.

He said at least 138 defense contracts would be approved by July 31, adding that they are scouting for big military items from countries other than the US.

“Our defense system acquisition units went to South Korea. We have also dispatched our people to Spain. Some also went to France, all to determine the best offer and to know if we can foot the bills for these equipment that are being offered to us,” he said.

The AFP reportedly plans to acquire a Multi-Role Vessel from South Korea.

The AFP is also looking at France and Italy for fighter jets, aside from the reported plans to acquire a squadron of F16s from the US.

Gazmin did not give details, except that the defense department is looking at military hardware to protect the country’s air and maritime domain.

“ We need to guard our surroundings, our boundaries, so that we are not taken advantage of,” the defense chief said in Filipino, apparently referring to air and maritime intrusions of foreign aircraft and vessels.

Navy chief Vice Admiral Alexander Pama said they expect the formal turnover of another Hamilton Class cutter from the US Coast Guard by May.

The first Hamilton Class cutter, named BRP Gregorio del Pilar, is patrolling the West Philippine Sea.

Pama said they requested the US government to retain some of the equipment installed in the vessel.

‘PMA cadets not affected by political squabbling’

Meanwhile, Gazmin said Philippine Military Academy (PMA) cadets are not affected by political squabbling as a result of the impeachment trial of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Gazmin said he received this assurance from PMA officials in yesterday’s PMA alumni homecoming in Fort del Pilar, Baguio City, where he was the guest of honor and speaker.

“I talked with the PMA officials and they told me that they and the cadets are not affected. But they are also discussing the issue (impeachment trial) among themselves to understand what’s going on in the political front,” he said.

In President Aquino’s PMA message which Gazmin read, the Chief Executive reminded the cadets not to abuse their position as government servants.

“The President wants to drive home a message to the cadets that as government servants they must come clean in serving the people,” Gazmin said.
By Jaime Laude
The Philippine Star
February 19, 2012 12:00 AM

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