Malacañang defended the purchase of a P2-billion command and control jet from the United States which would be used to ferry President Rodrigo Duterte and senior government and military officials in the event of a major crisis situation.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo denied that it was meant to serve comfort, saying it was necessary for times of crisis.
“Hindi naman comfort iyon. Komportable ba iyon? (It’s not for comfort. Is it comfortable?)” Panelo said in a Palace briefing on Tuesday.
“In times of crisis, eh ‘di kailangan mo iyon. Kaya nga crisis eh (If there are times of crisis then you need it. That’s why it’s a crisis) then there is necessity. Kung necessity, papano naman magwawaldas ka? (If it’s a necessity, how could you not spend for it?),” he added.
Panelo pointed out that Duterte, known as a frugal man, will not allow the government to spend for anything “unless necessary.”
Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation recently announced on its website that the Philippine Air Force has signed a contract to buy a Gulfstream G280 aircraft for “command and control” duties.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Secretary-General Renato Reyes criticized the aircraft purchase questioning how the government could spend for comfort when commuters suffer from transport woes.
Meanwhile, Panelo expressed hope that the aircraft purchase could be the start of “fairer deals” between the Philippines and the US.
On Monday, Panelo said the US may feel “a little insecure” about its relationship with its only military ally due to deepening ties between the Philippines and Russia.
Duterte’s second visit to Russia last week secured PHP620 million worth of business deals.
Panelo said partnerships with other countries, such as Russia, would likely prompt the US to give more importance to the Philippines including “fair deals”.
“(US) should be more open into giving us fair deals. Like the complaint of the President, he wanted to buy arms from them and choppers, but they refused, because they placed condition, colatillas,” Panelo said in an interview over a cable television program. (PNA)