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President Aquino cites armed forces’ modernization feat under his term
By Leslie D. Venzon
MANILA, June 1 (PNA) -- President Benigno S. Aquino III on Wednesday underscored his administration’s efforts to bolster the capabilities of the armed forces, particularly its modernization support.

During the ceremony for the commissioning of the Philippine Navy’s strategic sealift vessel, President Aquino said the government has released Php60.14 billion for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) modernization and capability upgrade program from July 2010 to May 2016.

“Halos doble po ito sa pinagsama-samang nailaang pondo ng nakaraang tatlong administrasyon. Sa parehong panahon, umabot na sa 68 proyekto ang natapos natin, kumpara sa 45 ng tatlo nating sinundan,” he said during the event, which also marked the Philippine Navy 118th anniversary.

The President also cited the government’s programs to strengthen the Navy’s surface fleet, air arm and anti-submarine capability, all are being utilized for national security operations.

“Di po ba, noon, napipilitan na lang kayong idaan ang misyon sa tapang at abilidad? Ngayon, ibinibigay na ang mga kasangkapan at kagamitang kayo mismo ang tumukoy, para maging mas mahusay kayo sa pagtutupad ng inyong sinumpaang tungkulin,” he stressed.

The Chief Executive added the Navy currently has five naval helicopters and three multi-purpose attack crafts.

“Bukod sa mga ito, paparating na rin ang iba pang assets, tulad ng dalawang Frigates, dalawang Anti-Submarine Warfare Capable na Helicopters, ang pangatlo nating Weather High Endurance Cutter,” he bared.

On Wednesday, President formally commissioned Navy’s BRP Tarlac, its biggest asset to date and its first strategic sealift vessel.

“Magsisilbi itong multi-role vessel, na maaaring gamitin, di lang sa military operations, kundi maging sa humanitarian assistance, disaster response, sealift and logistics, mobile government administration, search and rescue, at mass evacuation. Sa susunod na taon, inaasahan natin ang pagdating ng isa pang barkong tulad nito,” President Aquino noted.

Apart from the provision of military equipment and assets, the President said he has also signed an executive order for increasing monthly hazard pay, provisional allowance and officers’ allowance, in addition to the AFP/Philippine National Police housing program.

“Ngayon po, sinasabi ba nating kumpleto na ang lahat ng inyong pangangailangan? Hindi po. Ang punto lang po natin dito: Sa halos anim na taon, taas-noo nating masasabing talagang sinagad natin ang lahat ng ating makakaya, para paunlarin ang ating unipormadong hanay,” the Chief Executive further said. (PNA)

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