Press Release
April 30, 2007

Recto : P5 B yearly AFP modernization fund
not enough to stop Air Force nosedive

Current spending level for arms purchases is not enough for the virtually-grounded Air Force fleet to take off as a modern fighting unit, Sen. Ralph Recto said.

Recto said the P5 billion annual allocation for the Armed Forces modernization program cannot meet land, sea and air equipment needs of the military.

It cant even buy a squadron of second-hand F-16s, he said, referring to the US-made fighter-jet, a mainstay of many air forces around the world, including those in the region, but which the Philippines never had.

Just the same, Recto urged government Budget officials to the release this fund immediately, which is included in the P1.126 trillion 2007 national budget, so shoot, move and communicate equipment can be bought soon.

As a durable solution to equipment woes, Recto said government should look at the possibility of increasing by a minimum 50 percent or P2.5 billion a year beginning next year the AFP modernization outlay and increase this in the years to come.

Defense should be a recipient of our tax dividends. As we get back our fiscal footing, we should begin to reclaim our skies. This nosedive by PAF due to equipment lack should be stopped immediately, he said.

Recto said defense spending is an investment worth making.

From illegal fishing alone, we are said to lose at least P25 billion a year because poachers do their thing with impunity inside our waters which we cannot patrol by air or sea, Recto said.

A farmer would buy a paltik to protect his one carabao. Should we not buy some planes so we can guard the tuna highway which passes near Mindanao, which earns for us billions of pesos a year? Recto said.

Recto said PAF cannot rely on its budget alone to refurbish planes much less acquire new ones, even those previously -owned by other governments.

He explained that P4.8 billion of the PAFs P8 billion budget for 2007 is eaten up by salaries of its 17,000 men. Theres P3 billion for operating expenses. Whats left for capital outlays, or for new equipment, believe it or not, is a measly P28 million, Recto added.

Based on recent budget documents sent by the agency to the Senate, PAFs UH-1H or Huey chopper fleet has whittled down to less than 40 from a high of 128.

Not all of the 40 were, however, full mission capable at the time the report was made in September last year.

Worse, there is no real jet in the Air Force fleet as all the Vietnam-era F-5 Phantoms have been mothballed more than two years ago, the report showed.

What can pass for jets is a handful of Italianmade S-211s, whose number has gone down, due to crashes, from a high of 24, Recto said.

On paper there are 381 various aircraft of PAF in its inventory, but a report to Congress last year indicated that only 117 aircraft were presently maintained.

But of the 117, only 63 were full mission capable, 19 were partial mission capable, and 35 were out.

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