Duterte hopes to complete PAF modernization within his term

President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Tuesday night expressed hope that the modernization program of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) would be completed before he steps down in 2022.

AIR FORCE MODERNIZATION. President Rodrigo R. Duterte witnesses the live demonstration of the Integrated Air Operation Simulated Exercise (IAOSimEx) Capabilities of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) during the 72nd PAF Anniversary at the Col. Jesus Villamor Air Base in Pasay City on July 2, 2019. He expressed hope that the modernization program of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) would be completed before he steps down in 2022. (Richard Madelo/Presidential Photo)

“I am hoping and praying that before my remaining three years will expire, that all of these things especially the labeled ‘Horizon Projects’ of yours will be completed during my term,” Duterte said during the 72nd anniversary of the PAF at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.

“I want to leave the office of the presidency with an assurance to myself that I leave the functions, pass it on to the next whoever he will be,” he added.

Duterte was referring to the Second Horizon of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program, which involves PHP139-billion worth of projects including the procurement of utility vehicles, drones and other command and control fixed-wing aircraft, among others.

He also welcomed the acquisition of an Air Defense Radar System and an FA-50PH flight simulator earlier this year, which will be supplemented by the expected delivery of six A-29B Super Tucano Aircraft and another Air Defense Surveillance Radar System.

Duterte said he wanted to complete the modernization program because he was not sure that his successor would share the same priorities.

“Gusto ko lang kumpletuhin ‘yan baka ang susunod sa akin (I just want to complete it because maybe my successor) would not be a fellow of like-minded. He might have other priorities,” Duterte said.

He, however, clarified that his desire to complete the PAF’s modernization program did not mean that the government has “exceedingly plenty of money” but just enough to acquire what is needed.

“I am not saying that we have exceedingly plenty of money. But God has been kind to us. We have almost — the thing — ah the money or the things that we need that are immediate and urgent,” Duterte said.

Duterte, meanwhile, told members of the PAF that he had never denied a request to beef up their capabilities.

“During my time, I have never said ‘no’ to any of the commanders and to (Defense Secretary) Delfin Lorenzana at kay (National Security Adviser) Secretary Esperon. All the things that they wanted for our Armed Forces pati ang pulis (even the police),” Duterte said.

He assured the PAF that the Duterte administration will continue to pursue efforts to enhance their capabilities.

Duterte acknowledged PAF for its efforts in providing rescue and relief operations to areas devastated by calamities, in the aerial observation of calamity areas, and in airlifting personnel, victims and relief goods.

He also commended the airmen for providing air assets and close personnel support to ground troops during engagements with the Abu Sayyaf and other local terrorist groups. (PNA)