Aquino okays release of P10B for military arms, aircrafts

MANILA -- President Benigno Aquino III has ordered the release of P10 billion to purchase new equipment and aircrafts as part of the modernization program for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said his office is preparing for the special allotment release orders (Saro) that will be charged against the 2010 and 2011 appropriations amounting to P5 billion each.

Abad said the P5-billion fund for 2010 will be used to equip the Philippine Army with 14 armored personnel carrier, 272 20-man pack radios and 3,480 force protection which totals to P1.4 billion.

The Philippine Navy will also procure one strategic sealift vessel that costs P2 billion, while the Philippine Air Force targets to acquire one special mission aircraft and two light lift aircraft amounting to P1.6 billion.

The 2011 budget, meanwhile, will be used to purchase vehicles for civil military operations, health services and disaster response activities, among others, said the budget chief.

The Philippine Army will purchase 32 five-ton dump trucks and 55 special purpose vehicles, while the Philippine Air Force will purchase two search-and-rescue helicopters, 30 special purpose vehicles and 15 amphibian vehicles.

The AFP is also planning to purchase weapons and communication equipment, such as for the Philippine Army — 1,376 handheld radios, 210 AV configuration radios and 100 base radios, as well as 150 mortars (60mm); and for the Philippine Air Force — 78 units of audio-video equipment, 160 portable radio receivers, 100 sniper rifle systems and 2,000 standard weapons systems.

“Our President is committed to bring just and lasting peace for the country by bringing all armed conflict to a permanent and peaceful end. One way to achieve this is to ensure an immediate upgrade in our soldiers who are a key factor in achieving peace,” Abad said.

“The acquisition list, to be funded by the AFP Modernization Program, was based on a review and updating of operational requirements demanded by regional security developments. This list already balances the internal security and regional security requirements of the AFP,” he added.

In a radio interview, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the P10-billion fund for the AFP modernization has nothing to do with the deaths of 19 government troops in Basilan last week.

“This is something that was already in the works,” she said. (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)

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