FORT MAGSAYSAY—This sprawling military camp, the largest Army reservation in the country, is modernizing fast and has recently acquired a fleet of trucks and ambulances worth P98.3 million.
The camp has been identified as one of five bases where US troops and supplies could be stationed under a security deal with the US and Philippine governments.
The trucks and ambulances were blessed and turned over to the Army’s 7th Infantry Division in ceremonies here on Wednesday.
Maj. Gen. Angelito De Leon, 7th Infantry Division commanding officer, said the vehicles formed part of the modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
This camp was one of the five military facilities whose use was allowed by the Philippines during the 6th US-Philippines Bilateral Strategic Dialogue in Washington in March under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.
The Edca grants Washington increased military presence in its former colony, and it’s allowed to park there ships and planes for humanitarian and maritime security operations. It also allows US soldiers, warships and planes to temporarily base in Filipino military locations.
The Edca was signed by both countries in 2014, but its implementation was held up until the Supreme Court upheld its legality in January.
Also covered under Edca are the Antonio Bautista air base in Palawan near the South China Sea, Basa air base in Pampanga, Lumbia airport in Cagayan de Oro, and the Mactan-Benito Ebuen air base in Mactan.
Fort Magsaysay has training facilities for airborne and amphibious operations, jungle survival and guerrilla warfare. US forces already use a small part of the reservation to store weapons and equipment needed for the annual Balikatan exercises with the Philippine military.
In a speech during the turnover, De Leon noted that before the AFP Modernization Program and the Army Transformation Roadmap were implemented, the Army had lagged behind in capabilities. Ferdie G. Domingo
He said that under these programs, the AFP had been acquiring equipment geared toward making its armed forces world-class.
He said not only the AFP would be modernized but the troops themselves who will be updated on the use of modern equipment and weaponry.
Earlier, the Army received R4 rifles, which are considered more modern than the M-16 rifles.
De Leon said the modernization program had also benefited the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Air Force. The Navy, he said, was recently beefed up with the arrival of a strategic vessel, which may be used as alternate command and control vessel and two FA50 lead-in fighter jets for the Air Force.
He said these pieces of equipment were useful during combat operations and in times of calamity.