IF there is one thing that should be lauded and given recognition during the previous administration of the late former president Benigno Aquino II, it is that under his leadership the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) began a serious upgrade of its military capabilities, both in terms of equipment and training.
It has always been the mantra that the best defense is a good offense. This adage applies to various areas of endeavor and part of the strategy in games or military conflict. There is also that Latin saying which goes “ Sī vīs pācem, parā bellum” or translated as “If you want peace then prepare for war”.
Simply said, after several decades of mostly being ignored, the military of this country or the AFP has finally been accorded the importance and priority that it rightfully deserves. Not to put it lightly, but if we really want to enjoy peace in the countryside or safety from the depredations of foreign nations that might intrude into our territorial borders, then it is worthy to invest in equipment and personnel that would provide that security and sense of comfort for our people.
During the administration of the late former president Noynoy Aquino we saw the government being serious in strengthening the military capabilities of the AFP to the tune of about sixty billion pesos for the modernization of the military and with a total of 68 completed projects under the said budget.
During his administration the military was able to acquire the following: a brand new strategic sealift vehicle that is more than four hundred feet long in length named the BRP Tarlac and commissioned in 2016; two FA-50 fighter jets; five naval choppers; eight attack helicopters; three medium lift aircraft (C-295); and eight Bell 412 combat utility helicopters. These military equipment were brand new and already delivered to the country. Those that are waiting to be delivered include the following: a second strategic sealift vehicle; additional ten FA-50 Fighter Jets; two anti-submarine choppers.
Not to be left out, the Philippine Army also got new M4 caliber 5.56mm rifles as well as more than a hundred armored vehicles. All of these during the administration of Benigno Aquino III.
Not to be outdone, the administration of former president Rodrigo Duterte also allotted a 5.6 billion dollar budget for the further upgrade of the AFP which included the acquisition of the following: for the Philippine Navy, two Jose Rizal Class Frigates, five second hand TC-90 Aircraft for maritime patrol ( project started under the Pnoy administration but contract signed under the Duterte administration), three Multi-purpose attack craft (MPAC-Mk11) which were bought from a local military equipment manufacturer, one Conrado Yap Class Corvette, three Del Pilar class Ship Upgrades, and nine Shaldag Mk V Crafts bought from an Israeli company.
For the Philippine Marine Corps, they got 702 ATGL-L2 rocket launchers bought from a bulgarian company.
For the Philippine Air Force, they were able to get six super tucano aircraft, sixteen black hawk helicopters, one C-295 Aircraft, twp AH-1 Cobra Attack helicopters, one G280 C2 aircraft, three hermes 450 drones, nine hermes 900 Drones, three fixed surveillance radars, one mobile surveillance radar, three spyder ground based air defense system, and 2 C-130 transport aircraft.
The Philippine Army got twelve ATMOS Self Propelled Artillery and ninety ural truck troop carriers.
No one can deny that for both these two previous administrations, the military was able to obtain a very serious military upgrade, the likes of which has not been seen for almost over 30 years.
With this kind of military modernization, it only becomes logical to expect the new administration of President Bongbong Marcos to continue what his predecessors have started – and that is to further improve the military capability of the AFP.
Considering that we are an archipelago and surrounded from all sides by water, common sense dictates that there is a need to strengthen and augment protection measures along the country’s coastlines. This can be achieved with the purchase and acquisition of not one but perhaps several submarines as well as additional warships to patrol our waters. The Marcos administration might also consider buying additional fighter jets, drones, and radars to bolster the air defense system over the country’s territory.
This is the only way we can be assured of our capability of maintaining peace within and without our borders, by making sure that we have the means to guarantee that peace.