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What happened to our military?

/ 04:55 AM June 25, 2016

A front-page photo in the Inquirer yesterday showed Indonesian President Joko Widodo standing beside a gun turret on the deck of an Indonesian Navy ship.

That photo, released by Reuters, was intended to show China that Indonesia was ready to do battle with the military giant in order to protect its sovereignty.

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The Indonesian Navy ship looked new and spick-and-span the way a Navy ship should look.

As somebody who grew up in a military environment from the 1950s till the late ’60s, I could only shake my head in disappointment as I compared our Philippine Navy (PN) to the other navies in Southeast Asia.

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We now have a puny Navy and Air Force.

In fact, we practically have a Navy with no ships and an air force with no planes.

But back in the ’50s and ’60s, we had plenty of naval ships.

We had the best Navy and Air Force in Asia, second to Japan.

Although PN ships were hand-me-downs from the United States they were relatively new as World War II had ended only a decade or two earlier.

PN ships patrolled our seas unchallenged. Philippine Air Force (PAF) jets and propeller-driven planes proudly flew our skies.

PAF C-47 (cargo) planes shuttled between Nichols (now Villamor) Air Base and different bases in the country, transporting soldiers and even their dependents.

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PAF’s giant Hercules aircraft, which were very new in the 1960s, were used mainly for transporting troops and equipment.

The Philippines had so many Air Force planes and helicopters and Navy warships and patrol craft that they were hard to count with one’s finger; no exaggeration.

PAF’s Blue Diamond squadron was the envy of our Asian neighbors.

During a turbulent period in an African nation in the early ‘60s, PAF fighter pilots were sent to augment the United Nations peacekeeping force there.

What happened?

Why is the Armed Forces of the Philippines the most under-equipped military force in the Asian region?

Aside from being corrupt, our past leaders didn’t have foresight.

Our past leaders didn’t think of buying modern arms because the country was too dependent on the US which had two military bases—Clark and Subic—in the country then.

The budget for arms went into the pockets of officials in the past administrations because, anyway, there were second-hand military equipment from Clark and Subic.

If corruption is eliminated or at least minimized in the incoming administration of Digong Duterte, as he has promised, then the country will be able to buy all the military arms and equipment we need.

Perhaps PN ships and Air Force planes will be able to proudly patrol our seas and skies.

And, if our warships and aircraft are challenged within our territory, we will be able to answer the challenge.

***

Cebu Regional Trial Court Judge Raphael B. Yrastorza retired on March 3 this year after he suffered a stroke.

He depends on charitable foundations for his medication and rehabilitation.

How long will Yrastorza and his family have to wait before the Supreme Court grants him his retirement and disability benefits?

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TAGS: Indonesian Navy ship, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Philippine Air Force, Philippine Navy, territorial disputes, Villamor Air Base, West Philippine Sea
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