Finding US attack helicopters as expensive, Lorenzana says gov't to look for other supplier
The Philippine government is looking for another supplier who could offer cheaper price for the Armed Forces of the Philippines' attack helicopters, Defense Secretary Defense Lorenzana said on Wednesday.
In a press briefing, the Defense chief said the attack helicopter variants being offered by the United States are expensive.
"I think that's 1.5 billion to 2 billion (US dollars) for six helicopters, we can't afford that," he said.
The official said the government has earmarked only P13 billion for the purchase of attack helicopters.
With such allocation, if the Defense department would buy the US-made helicopters, it could only get one or two units.
"That's why we're looking for attack helicopters from other country where we can purchase more units with the budget that the government has given us," Lorenzana said.
Late last month, the US State Department has approved a possible sale of attack helicopters to the Philippines.
Manila could chose for either six AH-1Z attack helicopters for about $450 million or AH-64E Apache attack helicopters for an estimated amount of $1.5 billion.
Lorenzana also said that the supposed deal with the US has nothing to do with the Visiting Forces Agreement, which the Duterte administration already terminated.
Some groups, particularly those left-leaning, have criticized the government over its plan to acquire military equipment.
They said the budget should instead be earmarked for the government's campaign against coronavirus disease pandemic.
Lorenzana, however, dared the militant groups, including the communist rebels, to stop their armed struggle so that the government would not buy attack helicopters.
"I agree that buying these helicopters is I think...we would rather give it to our people. But as I said, stop your armed struggle and we will also refrain from buying these kinds of arms," he said, noting that the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front has been creating trouble for over 50 years. Celerina Monte/DMS