Senators call for fast-tracking of AFP Aircraft modernization

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 6, 2021   •   367

MANILA, Philippines — Senators are calling on the government to fast-track the aircraft modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) following the recent military plane crash in Patikul, Sulu on July 4.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri reiterated his call for aircraft modernization and urged the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to find the budget necessary for the Air Force to replace their aging fleet.

The senator noted that the country already lost over 70 personnel in military aircraft accidents.

Zubiri recalled these incidents which include the one that took place in Isabela in July last year where four lives perished. Four were also killed in Basilan in September and 1 in Lanao del Sur in November of the same year. This year, seven were killed in a mishap that happened in Bukidnon in January, which was followed by another tragedy in June when a Blackhawk helicopter crashed in Tarlac and took the lives of six military personnel.

“It is unthinkable that we’d left our soldiers to use 50-year-old helicopters and aircraft for so long. Is this how we value our military?” he said.

Senator Imee Marcos also called for the end of procuring cheap aircraft to ensure the safety of the country’s military.

“Stop buying these ‘flying coffins’! Tigilan na ang pagbibili ng mura. Tinatawaran natin ang buhay ng sundalo. Binubuwis natin ang buhay ng mga pulis,” she said.

(Stop buying cheap [aircraft]. We are haggling the life of soldiers. We are sacrificing the lives of the police.)

The C-130 aircraft is among the second-hand military plane procured by the country from the Security Cooperation Assistance of the United States (US) government.

Meanwhile, Malacañang urged the public to wait for the formal investigation before taking necessary actions to address the issue and prevent military plane crashes.

“Antayin po muna natin ang pormal na imbestigasyon na isinasagawa doon sa lumagpak na Blackhawk tsaka po dito sa C-130. Kung wala po ang resulta ng pormal na imbestigasyon hindi po tayo makakagawa ng proper steps para maiwasan itong bagay bagay na ito,” he said.

(Let us wait for the formal investigation on the Blackhawk and C-130 plane crash. If there is no result from the formal investigation, we cannot take the proper steps to prevent similar situations.) -AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Former AFP chief Abadia passes away

Robie de Guzman   •   January 10, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff General Lisandro Abadia has passed away, the military said Monday.

In a statement, the AFP extended its sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Abadia.

“General Abadia served as the CSAFP in the early ‘90s and has paved the way for the professionalization of the military and the return of meritocracy in its promotion system,” the AFP said.

“He also led the AFP Campaign Plan ‘Lambat Bitag’ that significantly decreased the strength of the communist terrorist group,” it added.

Abadia led the AFP from April 1991 to April 1994.

He was a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1962.

The AFP said appropriate military honors will be provided in recognition of the former Chief of Staff’s legacy and sacrifices as a soldier and head of the military.

“Again, we send our deep condolences and sympathies to his family,” it said.

Senate on total closure from January 10 to 16 – Sotto

Robie de Guzman   •   January 7, 2022

MANILA, Philippines ­– The Senate will be closed for a week amid rising COVID-19 infections among its employees, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Friday.

Citing a report from the Senate Medical Team, Sotto said there are now 46 active COVID positive cases in the upper chamber while 175 employees are under quarantine due to exposure and manifestation of symptoms.

Sotto said these employees are awaiting the result of their COVID-19 swab test.

He also mentioned that five staff of the Medical Bureau are under quarantine, which depleted their workforce and find it hard to attend to the needs of the infected employees.

“Medical has sent a Memo recommending 7 days of total closure of the Senate from January 10 (Monday) to  January 16 (Sunday),” he told reporters.

“They will conduct thorough disinfection and this will lessen contact among employees to prevent or slow down virus transmission,” he added.

Sotto said total closure means no one will be allowed to enter the Senate premises except for those involved in the disinfection process to be conducted on January 8 and January 15.

The House of Representatives earlier announced it has extended the lockdown in its offices until January 16, also due to increasing COVID-19 cases.

 

AFP chief Centino tests positive for COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   January 7, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff General Andres Centino has contracted coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the military said Friday.

In a statement, the AFP said Centino tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday.

The military did not disclose whether Centino is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

“General Centino is now in an approved isolation facility within Camp Aguinaldo where he will continue to perform his job, albeit in quarantine,” the AFP said.

“He remains in full command of the AFP, supervising all units in carrying out their assigned tasks through all allowed and available means,” it added.

The military said Centino is viewing this situation as an opportunity to remind its personnel to “constantly practice safety measures and follow health protocols to prevent the spread of this disease.”

“The AFP continues to advocate the preservation of our force so that we can effectively perform our mandate to protect the people and secure the state,” it added.

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