The Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) acquisition of air and naval assets as part of its modernization program provided the country with a credible means of defense, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said.
Lorenzana made the remark shortly after witnessing a Fleet Review and Wing Flyby showcasing 63 air and naval assets near the coast of Bataan on Wednesday, 16 December, as part of the AFP’s 85th anniversary.
The BRP Jose Rizal and BRP Davao Del Sur led the contingent from the Philippine Navy and three FA-50 and two Black Hawks headlined for the Philippine Air Force.
Lorenzana said having a modest capability in defending our own territory is a big lift from where the AFP was before.
“Now we can demand respect. We now have the capability. If somebody strikes at us, we will hit back. They will also have a bloody nose, that’s the way it is. But our defense posture is just to defend our territory. This is not meant for offensive (operations), we are not going there as an offensive force but just to defend our territory,” Lorenzana said an interview following the event.
“We should be two thirds of the way in attaining modernization,” he added.
AFP Chief of Staff General Gilbert Gapay, for his part, said “the Fleet Review and Wing Flyby showcases the AFP’s development into a world-class armed forces and a regional power through the modest but well-planned modernization program.”
Other naval assets which participated in the activity include BRP Ramon Alcaraz, BRP Emilio Jacinto, BRP Batak, BRP Abraham Campo, and BRP Ang Pangulo.
Thirty six fixed wing and rotary aircraft also joined the FA-50s and the Black Hawks, including the two AW159 and three AW109.
On board BRP Batak, a Navy landing craft, is the Philippine Army’s Simba armored personnel carrier and the Philippine Marine Corps’ V-150.
A short ceremony was also held on site presided by Lorenzana on board BRP Tarlac that served as the viewing deck for defense officials and senior military officers attending the activity.
Grateful to PRRD
In the same interview, Lorenzana said he felt proud that the arrival of the air and naval assets took place during his term as DND head.
He also thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for his concern and for pushing them to buy the necessary military assets and equipment to improve the country’s territorial defense.
Lorenzana said the AFP is looking at purchasing an additional five C-130 planes to improve the Philippine Air Force airlift capability.
“Yeah, I feel proud because this happened during my term as the Secretary of Defense. But more than anything else we should thank the President for his concern, Lorenzana said.
Gapay said the AFP is also truly grateful to the Commander in Chief for the unprecedented support to their modernization efforts.
“This showcase of our reliable and modern assets is our gift to the Filipino people. This is where your taxes go. The AFP as protector of the people and the state shall continue its judicious use of its resources and protect the trust and support people have vested on us,” Gapay said.
Lorenzana said opportunity to purchase the air and naval assets during his term and be able to showcase it may also serve as his legacy.
Lorenzana, however, clarified that holding the Fleet Review with Wing Flyby should not be considered as a show of force but merely as a celebration. This is also meant to show the Filipino people that the AFP is continuously upgrading and that their hard-earned money is being used for its modernizations efforts.
Lorenzana said the government hopes to hold this kind of event every five years to be able to show to the public the AFP’s assets.