Aquino legacy for DND: Push for military upgrade | Inquirer News
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Aquino legacy for DND: Push for military upgrade

/ 12:37 PM June 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of National Defense remembered former Philippine president Benigno Aquino III, who died early Thursday (June 24), as a leader who saw the importance of the military’s capability upgrade.

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“During his term, Republic Act No. 10349 was enacted to revitalize our AFP modernization program,” the DND said in a statement.

“As Commander-in-Chief, he recognized the importance of equipping our military to better respond to the evolving domestic and regional security challenges,” the DND said.

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Aquino, the Philippines’ 15th president from 2010 to 2016, died of a prolonged illness at 61.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines’ modernization has a long way to go, but Aquino, President Rodrigo Duterte’s predecessor, jumpstarted the efforts. He was the first president to give priority to the military’s capability upgrade since martial law.

The long-neglected air force and navy received more attention, although the army had its share, too. Some of the military’s acquisitions were: FA-50 trainer jets from South Korea, C-295 transport aircraft from Spain, attack helicopters, combat utility helicopters, military trucks, and landing dock ships.

Aquino’s decisions were triggered by China’s aggression in the West Philippine Sea, part of the South China Sea which Beijing claims almost entirely.

It was also the Aquino administration that took China to court, to contest China’s massive claims in the West Philippine Sea, after a standoff in Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal. The ruling, which was largely favorable to the Philippines, invalidated China’s nine-dash line and is recognized by many countries, including the United States.

The Philippines entered a deal with the United States during his term through the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, which allowed the US military to build facilities and preposition assets in Philippine military bases. It was an agreement that did not prosper as it was envisioned under Duterte’s term.

“The Department of National Defense joins the nation in grieving the demise of former President Benigno Aquino III,” the DND said.

“President Aquino advocated the strengthening of our defense and security capabilities to support national development,” the DND added.

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TAGS: AFP, Benigno Aquino III, China aggression, DND, military upgrade
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