Solcom blames Congress for modernization delays

By Rhaydz B. Barcia


Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) chief Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., said the AFP’s modernization has been neglected by the House of Representatives for 25 years as the leftist groups blocked it so as not to defeat the communist movement.


Parlade, who arrived in Legazpi City aboard the Philippine Air Force (PAF) brand-new Black Hawk helicopter together with Col. Llewillyn S. Banaag, wing commander of the Tactical Operation Group (TOG) Southern Luzon.


“The House of Representatives neglected the AFP’s modernization since 1995, because that has been the agenda of the left of the so-called security reform because they know that this could be used for defeating the insurgency,” Parlade said in a press briefing held at TOG 5 here.


“Now we have the capability and we are grateful to the administration as this will be an improvement of AFP modernization. Two Black Hawk units will be stationed in Southern Luzon and two each in every command of the country. Ten more choppers are coming in 2021,” the Solcom chief, who is a native of Albay province, said.


Parlade said that among the country’s different administrations, the Duterte administration is the most supportive of AFP’s modernization, though according to him, the Aquino administration was the one who started the AFP modernization program.


“We are simply trying to put and meet the requirement of the times specifically that we have a lot of requirements due to disaster specifically in Bicol with lots of natural calamities. These new air assets of the PAF will not only respond on insurgency but on our disaster response efforts,” he said.


Meanwhile, Banaag said that the delivery dates of brand-new Black Hawk helicopters started in November this year wherein six units already arrived; five more units will be arriving in May 2021 and five units in September 2021.


Other Philippine Air Force brand new assets are: four units of A29B Super Tucano; two units of T129 attack helicopter with four more units scheduled for delivery in 2022 and 2023.


Col. Randy Pascua, TOG-5 chief, welcomed the arrival of the two brand new combat choppers.


“We welcomed the first batch of brand-new combat utility helicopters as it commissioned two Black Hawk choppers in a ceremony here. They are primarily used in ferrying troops and cargo, medical evacuation, resupply, search and rescue, and for disaster relief. Transport helicopters are crucial in Philippine military operations,” Pascua said.


“These new air assets are much more durable in terms of safety and handling. It has many redundant systems. If it will be subjected to gunfire it can withstand a 50 cal machine gun from a 23mm cannon meaning far from the 70 eras of Huey,” Pascua said.