THE Department of National Defense is acquiring two refurbished C-130 planes from the US military, worth P2.5 billion, boosting the heavy lift transport capability of the Philippine Air Force.
One aircraft is due to arrive in the country this month while the second is due for delivery before the end of the year.
Defense department spokesman Arsenio Andolong said President Duterte, who declared in 2017 that he would not accept second-hand equipment from US, is aware of the procurement of the two C-130s.
“There are no acquisition(s) that do not pass Malacañang. All (procurement under the AFP) modernization passes through him,” Andolong said.
Told about the President’s declaration, Andolong said, “I think he is not inflexible. He listens when you justify an acquisition.”
Andolong said the Air Force is in dire need of additional C-130s, as shown in response efforts on the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said the Air Force has only two operational C-130s. He said one of them has been fetching medical supplies from abroad while the other is transporting the supplies against COVID-19 and locally-stranded passengers to the provinces.
The Air Force has three other C-130s in its inventory but they are undergoing maintenance, said Andolong.
“At this point in time, we really need more transport aircraft for HADR (humanitarian assistance and disaster relief) like transport of PPE (personal protective equipment). We need those C-130s from US,” he also said.
Andolong said the procurement had long been planned but Defense Secretary Lorenzana mentioned in a meetings about COVID-19 response measures “that we should have prioritized the procurement of transport aircraft which we need during this pandemic.”
Andolong could not say when the negotiation for the acquisition of the aircraft started but said it was during Lorenzana’s time as defense secretary. He said the acquisition is being done through the Foreign Military Sales Program of US.