President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday called on the Philippine Air Force (PAF) to remain vigilant in protecting the nation from threats of terrorism and external forces.
Duterte made this challenge during the 71st Founding Anniversary of the PAF at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City as he assured his administration remains committed to implement the Air Force’s PHP139-billion modernization program before he steps down in 2022.
“I therefore enjoin the men and women of the Philippine Air Force to remain vigilant as we intensify our fight against the current challenges of terrorism and external security,” Duterte said in his speech.
Duterte assured that his administration will remain steadfast in supporting not only the military modernization program but the necessary reforms “that will enable you to become effective agents of genuine and lasting peace”.
“I therefore ask of you to join me in this endeavor not just for ourselves, but for the sake of the generations to come, especially our nation,” he said.
Duterte said his administration is working on the implementation of the “second horizon” of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) modernization program by 2022 “to further develop a modern, adequately equipped border security force’.
He said part of the second phase of the AFP modernization project, reportedly worth around PHP300 billion, includes the PHP139 billion worth of 16 projects for PAF.
“We will continue to face challenges as we realize our shared vision of a stronger and safer Philippines. It is therefore vital to innovate and invest in strategies and technologies that will allow our forces to perform their duties safely and effectively,” the Commander-in-Chief said.
He said the PAF has completed this year the acquisition of air defense surveillance radars, utility aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles that complemented the PAF’s existing air assets.
“We are also expecting the delivery of additional equipment and machinery in the following year,” Duterte said.
The President thanked the PAF for their “invaluable assistance” in reclaiming Marawi City from the Maute terrorist group last year.
“Your invaluable assistance has been fundamental not only liberating the city, but also bringing order and stability in Mindanao and the rest of the country,” Duterte said.
“I also take this opportunity to recognize your contributions and accomplishments in air operations for territorial defense, counter-terrorism and internal security, international defense and security engagement as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster operations among others,” he added. PNA