Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the 70th Anniversary of the Philippine Air Force
Haribon Hangar, Clark Air Base, Pampanga
04 July 2017

Kindly sit down please. Maraming salamat po.

I’m sorry but I was late or I am late today for I passed by Bulacan to visit the family of Carlos to condole with the father, the only remaining member of the family.

I felt that it was my duty to be there and ask the — assure the people of government’s action. I am not… [General Valenzuela, can you give the order of tikas pahinga to the troops, kindly.]

You know, I am not one given to reading speeches. Usually, I would like just to talk and talk and have a dialogue with my audience rather than a speech. Kasi nasasabi ko ‘yung — ang nasa puso ko.

But for the rare times that I am in a hurry, not because of any personal errand, but because I… I feel bad that my troops there are getting wet and cold. Babasahin ko na lang itong speech ko. It’s about two pages.

But I have to make my acknowledgments: The Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo, ma’am. May I look at you for the third time? His Excellency Kim Jae-shin, the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the Philippines; Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea; National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and the other members of the Cabinet; General Eduardo Año, Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines; Commanding General Philippine Air Force, Lieutenant General Edgar Fallorina; Brigadier General Tirso Dolina, the Chief Chaplain; the officers, enlisted men, and the civilian employees of the Philippine Air Force, mga co-workers in government, mga kababayan ko.

Babasahin ko na lang ito at para madali na ang seremonya natin at umuulan. I find it very unsettling sitting there and looking at you all wet.

I am privileged to join you today as we celebrate the 70th Anniversary of our Air Force. As we commemorate this milestone, let me also honor the brave men and women of the AFP and the PNP who are now facing the enemy in Marawi and in the other parts of the country.

Especially Philippine Air Force plays a crucial role in preserving our national integrity in the face of challenges from within and from without — from outside our borders.

PAF’s intensified aerial reconnaissance missions and the maritime patrols [over] the West Philippine Sea and the Benham Rise are testament to our dedication to protect our waters from external threats.

We have also tapped PAF to augment our internal security operations by providing air support to our ground forces and assisting our law enforcement agencies in the surveillance and intelligence gathering operations.

Proving its capability on the ground, the Philippine Air Force has joined almost two thousand counter-insurgency and law enforcement operations, five of which contributing to our ongoing war against illegal drugs and loose firearms.

The Philippine Air Force is also playing a crucial role in our efforts to retake Marawi City from the clutches of the ISIS-inspired terrorists.

We have deployed more than 40 of our air assets and more than 400 Air Force officers and personnel, and several of which are involved in ground operations.

As we wrap up in our campaign to liberate Marawi, I am confident that the Philippine Air Force will once again take an active role in the rebuilding of the city and uplifting the spirit of those affected by the conflict.

We will rely on your valuable experience in humanitarian assistance and disaster response, especially in surveying war-torn areas and airlifting relief goods and rescuing victims and people stranded.

I assure you that we will build on our past gains to further strengthen the Philippine Air Force.

We will continue the ongoing modernization program by procuring additional attack and combat utility vehicles and unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs to complement our already existing air assets.

As our country faces the current challenges of terrorism and external security, I call upon the men and women of the Philippine Air Force to live up to your oath with the highest degree of professionalism and competence.

Together, let us create an environment where our people can live in peace and prosperity.

Mabuhay ang Philippine Air Force! Mabuhay kayong lahat, and you have my salute.