A credible air force
Published by the Visayan Daily Star Publications, Inc.
|NINFA R. LEONARDIA|
Editor-in-Chief & President
NIDA A. BUENAFE
MAJA P. DELY
ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA|
At the turnover ceremonies that installed of Gen. Lauro Catalino de la Cruz as the new commanding general of the Philippine Air Force, the new Air Force chief vowed to pursue the programs to upgrade the PAF and reestablish the country’s credible air defense that has been overlooked for years. As the wing force of the military, De la Cruz said his command’s air capability would be strengthened to the degree that it could defend the country’s territorial integrity.
Banking on the promise of various air assets that the PAF is slated to acquire in the future, Gen. De la Cruz promised that “With better equipment and systems, your Philippine Air Force will be a strong guardian of the Philippine skies”.
Those of us who have continually been embarrassed by the distinction that our Air Force holds is among the weakest in the region wish the new commander of the Air Force the best of luck in his dream to strengthen and improve that particular branch of our armed forces. Given the little and the decrepit that is already at hand, and the steep price of the additional equipment and improvements that could provide the bare minimum requirements to make the PAF a credible air force, the task of Gen. De la Cruz will indeed be the most challenging of his storied career.
Our country needs a credible air force. Not only for territorial defense, but also to give our armed forces a decisive advantage in the decades-long fight against the insurgency. In peace time, we also rely on what’s left of it heavily to provide search and rescue services, as well as spearhead expedient responses to disaster relief operations in an archipelago where transporting materials by land or sea is still unwieldy and takes far too long when lives are on the line.
If there is any hope for the air force, it comes in the form of the Philippine Navy’s newly acquired Hamilton class cutter, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar that has proven to the armed forces that this administration is at least more committed to the AFP’s modernization program than past administrations have been. Because man cannot fly, an air force is only as good as its equipment. This means that if the expensive modernization program has the full support of the President, then perhaps the dreams of the new commander of a decent and credible air force may just come true.*