By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri reiterated his call for the
aircraft modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP),
following the crash of a C-130 military plane in Sulu, killing
fifty-one individuals, many of whom were new soldiers from the 4th
Infantry Division training unit in Malaybalay, Bukidnon.
“I am unfortunately starting to sound like a broken record in my call
for modern aircraft and training equipment for our troops. I am so
saddened by the loss of such brave and patriotic individuals in such a
senseless death. “That’s what angers me the most. We’re losing so many
great men and women because of poor equipment and outdated aircraft.”
“Just over the last year, we’ve already lost over seventy people in
military aircraft accidents. Four in a crash in Isabela in July 2020,
another four in Basilan in September, one in Lanao del Sur in
November, seven in Bukidnon in January of this year, and six more in
Tarlac just last month.
“And now, over fifty people in Sulu. This is one of the worst air
disasters for the Air Force and the AFP. We really need to fast-track
our aircraft modernization so we can stop ruining lives like this, and
ensure that no other accident surpasses this one in the future.
“I am appealing to the DBM to find the budget necessary for the Air
Force to replace their aging fleet, particularly their workhorses,
which are their overused and extremely old C-130s.
“Early this year I sounded the alarm on AFP aircraft modernization,
after meeting with Deputy Chief Florante Amano and other officials
from the Air Force in January. We had the meeting after the Bukidnon
crash, because I wanted to hear about their modernization plans and
ask them what we in the legislative can help them with.
“It is unthinkable that we’d left our soldiers to use 50-year-old
helicopters and aircraft for so long. Is this how we value our
“Apart from upgrading our aircraft and other equipment, we absolutely
must also beef up our training programs for our military pilots. For
fixed-wing and rotor-wing aircraft.
“Modernization entails not only buying the best aircraft and
equipment, but also providing state-of-the-art and extensive training
for our military personnel. We have to invest in simulators, so we can
consistently train our soldiers without risking their lives, or the
lives of civilians.
“And again, we in the Senate are prepared to listen and to help our
military with their budget. Anything we can do to ensure that this
what happened in Sulu is our last accident of this kind. We have to
get serious about modernizing our military. We cannot lose any more
lives like this.” (ai/mtvn)