Too little, too late?
THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - March 16, 2015 - 12:00am

Before the end of this month, the Philippine Air Force will accept delivery of the first of three Airbus C-295 aircraft, a medium-lift utility plane similar to the C-130 Hercules that the PAF has been using for decades. The government spent five billion pesos to purchase the new aircraft. Delivery of the other two C-295s will be done next year. The acquisition will greatly boost the HADR (Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response) capability of the PAF in times of crisis, disasters and calamities. You will recall the role that the C-130 of the PAF played in delivering relief goods and other assistance to the victims of Yolanda. It was unfortunate that we only had a couple of the Hercules operational. With a payload of nine tons, the C-295 will be a godsend in times of disasters, as well as support for our troops.

Aside from the C-295, the PAF is set to accept delivery of several other aircraft such as close air support aircraft, utility and attack helicopters, light-lift aircraft and lead-infighter trainers. For so long has the PAF been the weakest air force in the region as compared to our Asian neighbors. We all know the jokes about having all air and no force. Hopefully, with the acquisition of these new aircraft, all to be delivered this year, the jokes will finally stop.

But aside from the long awaited modernization of the PAF, other branches of the military also require upgrades. Being a country of seven thousand one hundred plus islands, we need a strong navy. Both Hamilton-class cutters have been delivered to the country, but we need more. Especially when China shows no signs of stopping its construction of structures, some as big as large malls, on islands still subject to dispute, with cases already elevated to the UN. Right now, we can do nothing but watch and take pictures. A case of too little, too late?

While it is good that the modernization of the AFP is well underway, it really should have been done decades ago. This administration has seen to it that the military get the new equipment that it sorely needs. Past administrations did not prioritize this, instead choosing to enrich themselves. The country is now paying the price. The country could have safeguarded the islands we lay claim to. At present, we can only watch as the construction by the Chinese go on unchallenged. With a decision from the UN still a long way off, we may practically lose everything.

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