Multi Purpose Attack Craft of the Philippine Navy (photo : Timawa)
FORT MAGSAYSAY, Nueva Ecjia, Philippines — President Aquino said more than P11 billion would be allotted for the purchase of modern equipment for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Speaking at a dialogue with soldiers here yesterday, Aquino said the P11 billion would be used to acquire ships and other watercraft, helicopters for the Air Force, and rifles for the Army.
A Hamilton Class Cutter for the Navy would be coming from the US Coast Guard and that three more were coming soon, he added.
Aquino said long-range helicopters and additional watercraft would be acquired and deployed around Palawan, Sulu Sea and other areas.
“Let me make this clear, what we’re acquiring are quality patrol craft,” he said in Filipino.
“I’m particularly looking at the MPAC – multipurpose attack craft for the Navy. We’ll have more MPAC so that our Navy will have more impact.”
Aquino said he was aware how difficult it was to be a soldier due to the many sacrifices they had to take.
“These are made heavier by the controversies involving the AFP,” he said.
“This is brought about by the stealing by Gen. Carlos Garcia from AFP funds. I know you are affected by the hearings at the Senate on this issue.
“What’s painful here is that the Ombudsman is not of any help as she seems to be deliberately ignoring these kinds of irregularities.
“Instead of making (Garcia) accountable under the law, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez agreed to a plea bargaining agreement wherein Garcia would only return half of what he allegedly stole and then he would be free. It’s like saying you steal a large amount so the state would be tempted to split it or (be content) with even less than half of it and you would still be thanked.”
Aquino said despite the controversies, his trust and confidence in the men and women in uniform remain.
“We will punish the abusers in your ranks so that the people’s trust in you will be restored,” he said.
Aquino said he saw it fit to visit and thank the soldiers for their services to the country and that his administration was ready to return their heroism.
Aquino assured the soldiers that his administration was working double time to address their concerns and stop corruption in government.
Aquino was in Fort Magsaysay to witness the military exercise between the Philippines and the United States.
He took the opportunity to thank the US for helping the government in its anti-corruption campaign.
He cited the US move to return the $132,000 acquired from the sale of the forfeited property of Erlinda Ligot, for being ill-gotten.
Aquino said the government’s budget did not increase much but savings had been allowing it to provide for more programs and projects.