CLARK AIR BASE, PAMPANGA — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Tuesday, July 4, graced the anniversary of the Philippine Air Force and called its members to remain true to their oath amid threats of terrorism and external security.
“As our country faces the current challenges of terrorism and external security, I call upon the men and women of the Philippine Air Force to live up to your oath with the highest degree of professionalism and competence,” President Duterte said in his speech.
The Chief Executive said he is privileged to join the celebration of PAF’s 70th anniversary that highlights the role of the organization in defending the country.
“As we commemorate this milestone, let me also honor the brave men and women of the AFP and the PNP who are now facing the enemy in Marawi and in other parts of the country,” the President said.
“Especially Philippine Air Force plays a crucial role in preserving our national integrity in the face of challenges from within and from without — from outside our borders,” he added.
He said PAF’s intensified aerial reconnaissance missions and the maritime patrols over the West Philippine Sea and the Benham Rise are testament to his administration’s dedication to protect Philippine waters from external threats.
In addition, PAF was also tapped to augment government’s internal security operations by providing air support to ground forces and assisting law enforcement agencies in the surveillance and intelligence gathering operations.
The organization has joined almost two thousand counter-insurgency and law enforcement operations, five of which contributing to our ongoing war against illegal drugs and loose firearms.
The President acknowledged the Air Force in its crucial role in the government’s efforts to retake Marawi City from the clutches of the ISIS-inspired terrorists.
According to Duterte, more than 40 air force assets and more than 400 Air Force officers and personnel who are involved in ground operations have been deployed.
“As we wrap up in our campaign to liberate Marawi, I am confident that the Philippine Air Force will once again take an active role in the rebuilding of the city and uplifting the spirit of those affected by the conflict,” he said.
The President said the country relies on PAF’s valuable experience in humanitarian assistance and disaster response, especially in surveying war-torn areas and airlifting relief goods as well as rescuing the victims and those stranded.
He then gave assurance to further strengthen the Air Force.
“We will continue the ongoing modernization program by procuring additional attack and combat utility vehicles and unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs to complement our already existing air assets,” he said.
Among the officials who joined the President were Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, AFP Chief of Staff General Eduardo Año, PAF Commanding General Lieutenant General Edgar Fallorina, and the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the Philippines Kim Jae-shin.###PND