House speaker vows to push for PAF fleet modernization

House of Representatives Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Monday vowed to support efforts that will upgrade and modernize the Philippine Air Force (PAF) fleet following one of the country’s deadliest military aviation accidents.

Velasco made the commitment as he expressed his condolences to the family and loved ones of the 50 individuals, mostly military personnel, who died in a C-130H plane crash Sunday in Patikul, Sulu.

“There are simply no words that can be said to console those left behind by our brave military personnel, as well as the three civilians who died as a result of this disaster,” Velasco said. “I can only give my word that we in the House of Representatives will include in the 2022 budget the modernization of the PAF’s fleet as well as ensure the proper training of personnel in handling modern equipment.”

He said Congress was supposed to include the purchase of more C-130 planes in the 2021 national budget, but there was not enough time to deliberate on the PAF fleet modernization when he took over as Speaker in October last year.

He noted that sessions were suspended at the time, and President Rodrigo Duterte even had to call for a special session to prevent a reenactment of the 2020 national budget.

Velasco urged the Armed Forces of the Philippines to conduct a thorough investigation on the incident with the end in view of preventing such disasters from happening again.

He also called for a review of PAF pilots’ protocols, as well as an inquiry on the safety of runways around the country, especially in the provinces.

“We acknowledge the importance of our uniformed personnel, as our dear President Duterte himself has done so several times,” Velasco said. “The least we can do is to ensure that this never happens again.” PNA.GOV.PH