Philippine defense secretary says to accelerate army modernization

19:16, June 30, 2010      

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Philippine new Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said on Wednesday that implementation of the long- delayed modernization program of the Armed Forces would be among his priorities in the department.

"I would look at the modernization program ... We will speed it up and make sure that all the equipment necessary to modernization our Armed Forces will be delivered soonest," said Gazmin.

The 350-billion-peso (7.6 billion U.S. dollars) modernization program is funded mainly through government appropriations. It was divided into three aspects, the first of which is the procurement of equipment needed to address internal security threats.

The second part is for the procurement of armaments as the military transition to external defense while the third part is the external defense.

Gazmin said new President Benigno Aquino has instructed him to "put things in order" at the department within his first 100 days in office. "We will have to sit down and assess our problems and get into the bottom of all the problems so we can find solutions to all the problems," he said.

Gazmin said that as defense secretary, he would be supporting peace negotiations with the leftist rebels and the secessionists. Enditem

"First thing is to sit down and talk, thresh out the problems to see what we can do, what are doable so that there will be peaceful negotiations and peaceful solutions ... Everything will be based on our law and our Constitution," he said.



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