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PIA Press Release
2008/07/03

PAF: Wings of Our Nation

By Minerva BC Newman

Cebu, Philippines (3 July) -- "Surge on full power, fly safely and press on with your role as the all-embracing wings of our nation!" thus said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in her keynote speech during the 61st Foundation Anniversary celebration of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) on July 2 at the Mactan Benito Ebuen Airbase in Lapulapu City, Cebu.

President Arroyo said that she asked PAF Commanding General, Lt/Gen. Pedrito Cadungog to transfer PAF's anniversary celebration to Cebu to focus attention on the heroism of the members of the Philippine Air Force who fly search, rescue and relief missions coming on the heels of the terrible tragedy of typhoon "Frank" and the sinking of the MV/Princess of the Stars.

"Today, we honor those who risked their lives to save others," the President added.

She further congratulated the Air Force on its anniversary but on a personal note, paid tribute to the PAF saying that she has entrusted her life and that of her family to the Air Force. "Thank you for securing me, my family and the whole nation."

The President then reported that her trip to the U.S had reaffirmed the strong ties between the two nations and she was said that she was able to advance important issues upon her meeting with President George Bush, the speaker of the house and the senate as well as other important leaders and officials.

She added that she had pressed for economic aid, food security and stronger military cooperation. She said that both countries had strengthened military cooperation ties to continuously implement the country's Defense Reform plan, particularly the Capability Upgrade Program.

"We expect more skills upgrading programs for our airmen and other soldiers that will be sponsored by the U.S."

Primarily, the President said that the government has set aside billions of pesos for the upgrade of the Air Force both in equipment and facilities such as the purchase of new helicopters, "not just reconditioned ones."

Arroyo also said that a number of primary and basic trainer aircraft are also coming soon that should prevent the Air Force from running out of planes, and pilots from running out of the Air Force, she added.

Under its modernization program, the Philippine Air Force has new SF-260 trainer planes and night attack helicopters. It is also set to buy eight (8) primary trainer aircrafts; 10 additional Huey UH-1H utility helicopters; eight (8) brand new combat utility helicopters; eight new attack helicopters; two light lift aircrafts; 12 trainer helicopters; and upgrade 20 MD520MG.

The President assured the airmen that the government will make sure that their MOOE for petroleum, oil and lubricants and spare parts are adequate and that the 10% pay increase starting this month for all government employees also includes all AFP personnel.

Lastly, President Arroyo extolled the brave and hardworking men and women of the Philippine Air Force to fly to provide lift, to deliver support, revive hope and ensure peace for a nation that is taking off and hoping to rise to the level of First World in twenty years.

After the President's speech, a Huey Helicopter dropped colorful flowers around the PAF's grandstand as if on cue with the slight rain showers to honor the victims of the ill-fated MV/Princess of the Stars. (PIA-Cebu) [top]

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