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Zubiri slams AFP’s ‘flying coffins’

MALAYBALAY CITY – Following recent tragedies involving the air assets of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Senator Miguel Zubiri is strongly pushing for the modernization of the country’s old and dilapidated aircraft.

The senator is now so concerned about the recent plane crash in the Sulu airstrip that claimed the lives of 48 newly-trained soldiers and 3 civilians on the ground.

Zubiri claimed this is now a very serious matter for the country’s air assets which are now tagged by many people as the “flying coffins” of the armed forces.

“I am unfortunately starting to sound like a broken record in my call for modern aircraft and training equipment for our troops. I mourned the tragic loss of such brave and patriotic individuals. That’s what irritates me the most. We are losing so many great men and women because of outdated equipment and aircraft,” the senator lamented.

Zubiri said the country has already lost over 70 people in military aircraft accidents. He cited a plane crash in July last year in Isabela, Basilan that killed four people; another plane also in Basilan in September 2020 also killed four people; 1 in Lanao del Sur in November last year; and seven other people who died in Bukidnon due to aircraft mechanical trouble; and six more who also died in a plane crash in Tarlac.

“And recently, over fifty peacemakers died in the Sulu plane crash. This is one of the worst air disasters in the Air Force’s and AFP’s history. It’s unthinkable that we’d leave our soldiers to use those 50-year-old helicopters and aircraft for so long. Aside from modernizing our aircraft and other equipment, we must also strengthen our military pilot training programs for fixed-wing and rotor-wing aircraft. We really need to accelerate our aircraft modernization so we can stop ruining lives and ensure that no other tragedy surpasses this one in the future,” Zubiri claimed.

Zubiri appealed to the present administration to seriously consider AFP aircraft modernization as a top priority before the country’s alleged ‘flying coffins’ could kill more soldiers and civilians.

He emphasized his appeal to the Department of Budget and Management to look for funds and replace the country’s aging fleet, particularly the so-called extremely overused C-130 aircraft that serve as AFP’s workhorses. – with PIA report

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