Arroyo wants $25 million jet for Presidency

'Focus on repair of C130s, not jet' says Biazon

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BAGUIO CITY , Philippines – Malacañang has lost its sense of priority in purchasing an executive jet for the president, Sen. Rodolfo Biazon said yesterday.

Instead of buying an expensive private jet for the president, Malacañang should prioritize the upkeep of the Air Force’s remaining three C130s that badly need repair and upgrade, he said.

Biazon, a former Armed Forces chief, said the mobility of the military should be the priority of the government.

“And besides, the president doesn’t need a jet… the Philippines is so small,” Biazon said.

Malacañang justified its move to buy a brand-new presidential jet worth P1.2 billion, saying it would also benefit President Arroyo’s successors and greatly reduce security risks and other dangers when the nation’s leaders use aging planes or charter aircraft.

President Arroyo either takes a commercial flight or charters a flight when going on foreign trips. For domestic trips or visits to nearby countries, Malacañang leases private jets.

The last presidential aircraft was an aging Fokker F-28 jet used by former Presidents Fidel Ramos, occasionally by Joseph Estrada, and a few times by Mrs. Arroyo at the start of her administration in 2001.

An older presidential aircraft was the Fokker F-27, which was propeller-driven.

In the later part of the Ramos administration, the same aircraft was used to ferry journalists or Palace officials. It is no longer in use as it is considered dangerous to fly.

Mrs. Arroyo earlier donated two of the presidential helicopters to the Air Force.

The Office of the President earlier published a notice of biddings for a “presidential fixed-wing executive jet” that must be factory new, with two turbo-fan engines pressurized and equipped with avionics and instruments that are prescribed and compliant with the standards of the Federal Aviation Administration and International Civil Aviation Organization.

The aircraft is set for delivery at the end of the year following the bidding process that starts this month.


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