US response regarding Viper, Apache took almost 2 years: DND chief

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National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has said that the Apache or Viper attack helicopter offer from the United States is way beyond the budget appropriated for the Philippine Air Force (PAF) attack helicopter acquisition project.

“Itong pagbibili natin ng attack helicopter ay nagsimula pa noong mga 2016, 2017 at namili ‘yung Air Force ng mga platforms, iba-iba, kasama na ‘yung Apache at Viper at tsaka mga iba pang attack helicopters ng ibang mga bansa,” Secretary Lorenzana said during a press briefing at Malacañang May 13.

The defense chief also noted that it took almost 2 years before United States Department of State responded on Philippine Air Force (PAF)’s inquiry regarding the Viper or Apache.

“Usually ‘yung United States kailangan ng go signal ng State Department kung magbebenta sila. So ‘yung Air Force humingi ng details kung bibili tayo sa US at inabot sila ng ilang, more than 1 year, I think almost 2 years bago nila masagot ‘yung ating mga tanong. So ngayon dumating. Wala naman ‘tong connection sa ating pag-terminate ng VFA. Continuation lang ito ng ginawa beforehand,” Lorenzana said.

“I think that’s USD1.5 billion to USD2 billion for six attack helicopters, hindi natin kaya ‘yun. Ang pera lang natin na nakalaan para bumili ng attack helicopter ay PHP13 billion lang. Kung bibili tayo ng attack helicopter ng ganyang halaga ay baka isa o dalawa lang mabibili natin,” he said.

“Kaya tumitingin tayo sa ibang bansa, ng attack helicopter na mabibili natin na medyo madami-dami sa halagang ibinigay sa atin ng gobyerno,” he added.

He also said that if the communist armed struggle will stop, the Philippine military will no longer need to spend money to build up capability for internal security.

“Mayroon nagsabi na, leftist side, bakit bibili tayo, bakit hindi natin ibigay na lang sa mga tao, agree ako dyan. I agree that buying these helicopters is – we would rather give it (money) to our people, kaya lang ang sabi ko itigil ninyo ‘yang inyong ang armed struggle, ititigil din namin ang pagbili ng ganitong armas. Kasi 50 years na kayong nanggugulo dyan, gusto ninyo mapigilan kami pag-angkat ng mga panlaban sa inyo pero hindi naman ninyo ititigil yung inyong ginagawang armed struggle,” Lorenzana explained.