Speaker Lord Allan Velasco moved on Tuesday, Sept. 28 to include in the proposed 2022 national budget the purchase of three brand new C-130J cargo planes for the Philippine Air Force.
Velasco has endorsed the proposed aircraft procurement to make good his promise to the PAF that he will help the command get additional C-130s following the crash of the remaining unit in Sulu province last July 14, killing at least 45 people.
In a meeting with PAF officials on Monday, Velasco gave assurances that he will pursue his pledge.
Among those in the meeting were PAF chief Lt. Gen. Allen Paredes, Deputy Speaker and 1Pacman Partylist Rep. Michael L. Romero and DIWA Partylist Rep. Michael Aglipay, who are both air force reserve officers.
“We fully support PAF’s modernization and priority projects for next year, particularly its plan to upgrade its fleet by buying brand new and modern aircrafts,” Velasco said.
The Speaker also expressed his appreciation and gratitude to the PAF for keeping watch of the nation’s airspace, responding to disasters, and transporting medical equipment and supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Aglipay said he was told that the C-130 that crashed in Sulu was the last such military cargo plane included in the PAF fleet.
The aircraft, carrying troops bound for counter-insurgency operations, crashed with 96 people on board. It had attempted to land at Jolo airport, but overshot the runway and crashed at nearby Patikul town.
Velasco vowed to help the PAF replace the lost C-130 plane and to support its efforts to upgrade and modernize its fleet.
“I can only give my word that we in the House of Representatives will include in the 2022 budget the modernization of the PAF’s fleet and ensure the proper training of personnel in handling modern equipment,” Velasco said.
The Lower House is currently holding plenary debates for the proposed 2022 budget of the government.
During the meeting, Velasco urged the Armed Forces of the Philippines to conduct a thorough investigation on the incident with the end in view of preventing such disasters from happening again.
He likewise called for a review of PAF pilots’ protocols as well as an inquiry on the safety of runways around the country, especially in the provinces.
“We acknowledge the importance of our uniformed personnel, as our dear President Duterte himself has done so several times,” Velasco said.