• Defense Secretary clarified president’s pooh-pooh of fighter jets
  • He said they came from South Korea, not the United States
  • He also said acquisition of jets are important as they will train country’s Air Force pilots

MANILA, Philippines – Days after President Rodrigo Duterte again took the US to task for supposedly providing the country with “ceremonial” jets only, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana clarified that it was South Korea and not America who provided the country with its first FA-50 jets.

“Mukhang nagkamali lang siya [It looks like he made a mistake],” Lorenzana told the Philippine Daily Inquirer. “Iyong FA-50 is from Korea. Sabi niya dalawa lang binigay, hindi eh labindalawa iyon [The FA-50 is from Korea. He said only two aircraft were given, but there were 12].”

The jets are part of the multi-billion modernization program set by the previous administration for the country’s armed forces amid China’s growing aggression in the West Philippine Sea.

However, Duterte has pooh-poohed their acquisition; saying the armed forces would be better off with equipment to handle the country’s internal security problems.

In his speech in Indonesia, the president mistakenly and sarcastically thanked the US for the jets while thanking China for its commitment to build drug rehabilitation centers in the country by next year.

“We have received so many things from America. Thank you for your generosity. What they sold us, two, only two FA-50 fighter jets. It’s FA-50 but they never gave us the missiles and the bullets and the cannons to fight. For ceremonial lang,” he said.

However, Lorenzana said the FA-50s are expected to train the country’s pilots until they can acquire more advanced aircraft.

“So FA-50 first, and then later on, if we have capabilities to purchase real fighter planes, we will do that,” he said.