By Priam Nepomuceno

AFP chief of staff Gen. Andres Centino (Photo courtesy of AFP and Japan Self-Defense Forces)

MANILA – Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gen. Andres Centino expressed his gratitude to the Japanese government for its support to the force’s ongoing modernization program.

The AFP chief conveyed this in a teleconference with Japan Self-Defense Forces chief, Gen. Yoshihide Yoshida.

“The CSAFP (Chief of Staff AFP) also expressed gratitude to the Japanese government for supporting the AFP modernization, citing projects such as acquiring helicopter spare parts, surveillance planes, and radar systems,” said AFP public affairs office chief, Col. Jorry Baclor, in a statement Friday.

Centino was referring to Japanese efforts to provide the Philippine Air Force (PAF) with UH-IH spare parts which were instrumental in returning to service of “Huey” helicopters to service, the donation of the TC-90 aircraft which the Navy is now using as maritime patrol planes and radar systems which the PAF is now using to monitor the country’s airspace.

Both military leaders also expressed optimism in the future of Philippines-Japan military relations toward a free and open Indo-Pacific Region.

“In the call, the two leaders affirmed their countries’ shared commitment to uphold peace and prosperity, reinforce democratic resilience, and strengthen relations and alliances, considering both countries’ strategic locations in the Indo-Pacific Region,” Baclor said.

Yoshida also thanked Centino for his invitation to attend the closing ceremony of the 38th Philippine-US “Balikatan” Exercises slated for April 28.

He also lauded the AFP chief for his efforts to set a “strong foundation for cooperation.”

“Between our defense forces, it is only proper for us to ensure strong relations. So I am glad that we are in the same direction, that our defense forces support the objective to have a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Centino said. (PNA)