10 Desember 2011

After Warships, Aquino Now Wants to Acquire US Warplanes

10 Desember 2011

F/A18 Hornet at the AMARC in Tucson Arizona (photo : Aerommore)

MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino will ask US President Barrack Obama for fighter jets when they meet, probably sometime next April.

Aquino, a member of the Philippine Air Force reserve, made this disclosure in a speech to PAF personnel at the opening ceremonies of the PAF Invitational Shootfest and firing range blessing at the Villamor Airbase on Saturday.

“We went to Bali, Indonesia, recently and when we’re leaving for the Philippines, we saw on their airport three F-16s parked and they would be given two squadrons more by our American friends,” Aquino said in an impromptu speech.

“I said, this looks rather equitable. Two squadrons for them, one ship for us,” he added in jest.

Aquino said he would remind Obama of the strategic partnership between the Philippines and the US.

Obama has invited Aquino for a state visit to the US next year.

“I think that when I and President Obama meet next year, perhaps around April, I will remind him of our strategic partnership. They might remember that we don’t have a fighter jet here,” the President said.

The Philippines has already acquired from the US a Hamilton-class cutter and has named the erstwhile US Coast Guard vessel as the Navy’s BRP Gregorio Del Pilar.

“The Navy will be getting—I am told, I have been assured—our second Hamilton-class cutter sometime next year,” Mr. Aquino said. “And we did request that when it is given to us, they would no longer remove the equipment installed for us to put back in place… and it appears that our request would be granted…. Perhaps not the entire system, but a lot of it.”

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin during talks in Manila in November that Washington would give the Philippines a second cutter virtually for free in 2012.

The Philippines and the US signed a Mutual Defense Treaty in 1951.

The US recently indicated its preparedness to assist its allies in East Asia and Southeast Asia to ensure the free flow of economic activity and the implementation of maritime rules in the region.

(Inquirer)

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