01 July 2015

President Aquino leads Air Force’s 68th anniversary celebration in Pampanga
(CLARK, Pampanga) President Benigno S. Aquino III led the celebration of the Philippine Air Force’s (PAF) 68th founding anniversary here on Wednesday, urging its leadership to continue adhering to the righteous path so that reforms in the organization could be sustained in the long term.

During the event, held in Clark Air Base, the President highlighted the successes of his administration in pushing for the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the past five years.

He noted that aside from the acquisition of modern airplanes and weaponry, and the training of Air Force personnel, the PAF has a long-term plan that must be continued even after he steps down from office next year.

“Mayroon din tayong isinusulong na PAF Flight Plan 2028, para gawing mas malawakan ang transpormasyon sa inyong organisasyon,” President Aquino said in his speech.

He said that the plan for the Air Force’s modernization will span three administrations.

“Ibig sabihin, kung gusto nating makitang magtagumpay ang planong ito, kailangang tuloy-tuloy ang pagpanig natin sa Daang Matuwid; oras nga po na lumihis tayo mula rito, pihadong mauudlot ang pagsagad ninyo sa positibong pagbabagong ating nasimulan,” he said.

The AFP’s modernization is continuing, he said, adding that in the past five years, the government has been able to complete 55 projects under the present modernization program, surpassing the 45 projects completed by the three previous administrations.

Reforms in government and prudent spending have resulted in major upgrades for the Air Force’s assets, he said.

These upgrades include the purchase of two C-130 cargo planes, in addition to the three C-130s the PAF has at present, the President said.

An additional two units of the C-295 will arrive soon as well as two units of C-212 light lift transport planes. Six units of Bell 412 combat utility helicopters will also be delivered to the Air Force.

Also in the pipeline are six close-air support aircraft that will give the PAF enhanced capabilities to patrol the country’s air space.

This December, the President said, the PAF will receive the first two brand new FA-50 lead-in fighter trainer jets acquired by the Philippines from South Korea.

The Philippine government is also acquiring 12 units of FA-50s from South Korea in a contract worth P18.9 billion.

In June, the first FA-50 to be delivered to the Philippines, manufactured by the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), made its maiden flight.

“Malapit na nga pong mag-take-off sa sarili nating airbase ang fighter jets na ito, na inaasahang higit na maglilinang sa kakayahan nating pangalagaan ang ating teritoryo,” the President said.

Aside from giving the PAF and its personnel new equipment, weapons and training, the government is also providing them their basic needs, he said.

Under Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the government’s housing program for military personnel, 52,641 houses have been built, he said, noting that 6,400 of these are intended for PAF personnel.

The government also raised the Subsistence Allowance for members of the AFP and is also providing them funds for appropriate uniforms, the President added.

Joining President Aquino during the event were Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Catapang, Jr., and Air Force Commanding General Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado.

The PAF’s 68th founding anniversary carried the theme “Matatag na Bagwis, Dangal ng Bayan, Lakas ng Sambayanan”. PND (as)