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Incoming AFP chief lists three top priorities

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Incoming Armed Forces chief of staff Lt. Gen. Eduardo S.L. Oban Jr. has listed three top priorities, foremost of which is a genuine and wide-ranging reform he will undertake in the military which is tainted lately by alleged corruption.

In an exclusive interview with the Philippines News Agency (PNA) shortly after he was named as the incoming AFP chief of staff by President Benigno S. Aquino III during the graduation rites of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) in Baguio City Sunday morning, Oban said he will also give importance to the much-delayed AFP Modernization Program and the full implementation of its newly-launched Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) to contain the decades-old insurgency problem.

The IPSP was launched during the 75th AFP anniversary last Dec. 21, 2010.

The military’s new internal security plan will maximize use of civil-military operations (CMO) and the development-oriented activities while combat operations against armed groups will be intelligence-driven and calibrated.

As a jet-fighter instructor, Oban also said that he will see to it that the AFP Modernization Program will push through during the next six years.

The AFP Modernization Program was passed by Congress in 1995, yet much has yet to be done in the acquisition of new aircraft, helicopters, naval ships and tanks.

For almost six years now, the Air Force has no fighter planes in its arsenal after its ageing F-5 “Freedom Fighter” jets were phased out due to wear and tear.

The Philippine Navy (PN) is also lagging behind in the acquisition of new ships to replace its ageing warships some of which are still World War II vintage.

With a sea lane twice as long as the United States, the Navy needs more ships and patrol boats to guard the country’s sea borders.

Oban said that as directed by President Aquino, reform in the 130,000-strong AFP will be given top priority during his watch.

The reforms have been started by outgoing AFP chief of staff Gen. Ricardo A. David Jr. following the Senate inquiry on alleged corruption in the military.

David, in coordination with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, launched an all-out war against corruption in the military establishment.

To prove how serious the military is in stumping out corruption, Gazmin has formed a Special Department of National Defense Investigating Committee to investigate alleged corrupt practices in the organization.

Transparency will be a high point in the procurement process.

Internal checks and balances have also been strengthened to prevent any attempt of corruption.

As the incoming AFP chief of staff, Oban will have his hands full in the implementation of various reforms in the military but knowing his unblemished record as a highly respected Air Force officer, the new armed forces chief can do it with the full support of his subordinates. (Ben Cal-PNA/PIA9-BST)




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