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)