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Defense chief justifies purchase of P2-B jet



Amid mounting criticisms, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana defended the Philippine Air Force acquisition of a P2-billion business jet for the official trips of President Duterte and other military and government Very Important Persons.

Lorenzana said Gulfstream Aerospace Corp.’s brand new G280 jet is not primarily a presidential plane but an aircraft “necessary” for the Armed Forces of the Philippines’s 24/7 real-time command and control function, especially during a crisis situation.

“Let me emphasize that we do not consider the G280 as a luxury aircraft but a necessary component of the AFP modernization program for command and control of our Armed Forces to manage operations on air, land and sea,” he said.

With the Philippines having one of the most underequipped militaries in Southeast Asia, Lorenzana said the acquisition of the high-end, twin-engine business jet will keep the Armed Forces in pace with the current technological advancement of its neighboring countries.

While President Duterte has repeatedly stated before that he does not want an executive jet for his own use, Lorenzana insisted that the G280 is not a presidential plane.

“This aircraft was not intended to be a presidential plane but as a command and control plane of the AFP and the DND. It will also be used for mercy flights to ferry wounded soldiers and critically ill civilians that need to be quickly transported to hospitals,” Lorenzana stated.

“Will the President be using it? As the commander-in-chief, all assets of the AFP are at his disposal when he needs them.”

Aside from the President, Lorenzana said Cabinet secretaries and high-ranking government officials can use the business jet in their official trips around the country.

The business jet will also be used in facilitating the country’s diplomatic and humanitarian efforts with its neighboring countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nation.

The United States-based Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. had earlier announced that the Philippine Air Force has established a contract through the United States government to purchase a G280 business jet as well as parts, tooling, and contractor logistics support.

The acquisition was approved by Lorenzana in November 2018 with an approved budget contract of P2 billion. The aircraft is expected to be delivered by August 2020.

The procurement of a high-end business jet was heavily criticized by cause-oriented groups which said it is an “insensitive” move to the sufferings of millions of Filipinos what with the problematic transport system in the country.

“Duterte will have a new ride while Filipinos are left stranded without any means of quality mass transport,” said Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas chairman Danilo Ramos. (Martin A. Sadongdong)