After deadly aircraft incident :Philippine Army will modernize their equipment

After the crash of the plane Nomad AFP (Armed Force of Phippine) is highly lethal, where one victim was the leader of the AFP. AFP urged modernization of its equipment immediately under the new leadership of the AFP.
CAMP Gen. Servillano Aquino, Tarlac City: The recent crash of a Philippine Air Force plane that killed nine persons, including eight officers and crew of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), dramatized the need to speed up the Armed Forces’ modernization, Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales said on Friday.

His successor would be the one to push for the modernization, Gonzales added.

“The AFP’s modernization is a process and although there were several improvements in the procurement process, it’s still a long process . . . and given only four to five months [left in my appointment] as secretary of National Defense, I can’t come up with major efforts but at least we can lay down the policy for [the modernization]. We can lay down the process,” he told reporters after attending a command conference at the Armed Forces Northern Luzon Command Headquarters.

Gonzales said that the department was considering government-to-government transactions, which according to him are faster because bidding is removed and are free from suspicion of corruption.

He disclosed that the government is negotiating deals with Britain, Israel and Italy and that the Defense department is fast-tracking these transactions so that they would all be closed before he stepped out of the department.

Gonzales said that the P5-billion annual allotment from Congress is not enough for the modernization because the Defense department needs at least P235 billion for it.

“I’m very sorry that I cannot promise brand-new planes during my watch. Maybe the next Defense secretary [can promise] that,” he added.

Eight Air Force personnel including a two-star general were killed when a Nomad plane crashed in a subdivision in Cotabato City minutes after it took off from Awang Airport in Maguindanao province in southern Mindanao.

The 34-year-old Nomad 18 went down at about 11:35 a.m. on Thursday.

Military honors

Killed were Maj. Gen. Mario “Butch” Lacson, the commander of Philippine Air Force’s 3rd Air Division in Zamboanga City, Maj. Prisco Tacoboy, aide-de-camp; Second Lt. Alexander Ian Lipae; Sergeants Maria Rose Lamera and Ian Mejia; pilot and Capt. Gaylord Ordonio; co-pilot and First Lt. Angelica Valdez and Sgt. Jeffrey Gozon.

The ninth fatality was a civilian on the ground.

The Air Force also on Friday gave full military honors to the eight Air Force officers who died in the crash.

Headed by Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Oscar Rabena and Gen. Victor Ibrado, the chief of staff of Armed Forces of the Philippines, the remains of the officers arrived at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City (Metro Manila) at 1 p.m.

Relatives of the victims and other senior military and police officers attended the arrival honors. The base Chaplain, Col. Ernesto Cimatu, blessed the bodies of the victims.

Rabena said that he knew Maj. Gen. Lacson personally. “He was one of our topnotch generals and he was a good leader. He was also an excellent aviator and well-liked by his peers. Very unassuming person yet he never complained and worked hard.”

After the arrival honors, the remains were brought to the Air Force Gymnasium. They will be brought later to Rizal Funeral Homes.

The Philippine Air Force has one of the oldest fleets of aircraft in the world, including about a dozen Nomad planes.

The Nomad 18 transport plane was procured by the government in 1975.

Australian-made, it was being used by the Philippine Air Force for reconnaissance maritime patrol.

The Air Force had a total of three Nomad planes, with two in operation and the other being repaired.

Johanna M. Sampan

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