AFP working double time to develop defense capabilities
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is working double time to acquire the capabilities needed to protect the country’s territories, according to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
“We don’t have capabilities now, so we are making double time, but it depends on the funds that we get from Congress if they allocate more funds for our modernization program,” Lorenzana said in an interview Monday with ABS-CBN News Channel on the sidelines of the 17th Shangri-La Dialogue held in Singapore from June 1 to 3.
He said at present, the AFP lacks the capability to defend the country.
“At present, you know we don’t have any capabilities to even just to demonstrate to others that we are capable (of defending our territories) because we are not capable. We don’t have the capital ships, we don’t have the weapons,” Lorenzana said.
He also cited the case of the 1.2-kilometer Rancudo Airfield on Pagasa Island, the country’s sole operational airstrip in the Kalayaan Island group, which is short, unpaved and incapable of handling aircraft when it rains.
“Our sole airstrip in Pagasa is still vey short and it is (unpaved), so we’re trying also (to pave) that so that we can bring in our aircraft anytime, because at present it can only (land) there if there was five days of sunshine, because (it is) soggy,” Lorenzana said.
Earlier, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said the government has started constructing five lighthouses on its claimed features in the disputed region in the West Philippine Sea to ensure the safe navigation of Filipino ships and other foreign vessels that pass near the islands.
The government is building lighthouses on Pag-Asa, Likas, Parola, Patag and Kota islands, all part of the Kalayaan Group of Islands, at an estimated cost of P10 million.
Esperon also said the government is upgrading its military facilities on Pagasa Island, the largest of nine features the Philippines occupies in the West Philippine Sea.#