By Richel V. Umel
ILIGAN City — State security forces have modernized its capabilities, be it online and upgraded combat hardware, in fighting against terrorism, Major Gen. Gilbert I. Gapay, Commanding General of the Mechanized Infantry Division of the Philippine Army told reporters recently.
“It is not a remote possibility na magaka roon ng another Marawi seige but not in the immediate in the near term kasi kailangan nila (Maute Group) ang matinding preparasyon kagaya ng ginawa nila sa Marawi dati, Gapay said.
In the meantime, Gapay said, the Armed Forces of the Philippines is addressing the online recruitment of the Maute Group by launching the Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism Program. This program is in coordination with other government agencies.
“The approach is highly comprehensive. Looking into the social media alone, the terrorists exploited the social media in recuritment and planning,” said Gapay.
The unit has also acquired 16 new combat track vehicles.
“As the Mechanized Infantry Division will celebrate its 11th year of activation anniversary on Sept. 12, under the modernization of the Philippine Army, we want to showcase our capabilities and the new fighting equipment. From the Remote Controlled Weapon System upgrade of armored vehicles that would give us superior power to the new generation fire fighting vehicles,” Gapay said.
Aside from the new equipment, they have acquired the state-of-the-art mortar carriers.
“The target acquisition would be automatic and computer-based that could react very fact in case of threat. All of these were approved projects by President Duterte at the defense department level presented three weeks ago,” he said.
Gapay said the defense department realized the potential of the mechanized division of the armor unit in combat capabilities. Gapay did not elaborate the exact project cost but it will go to a competitive bidding. Gapay added.
Gapay said the light scorpion tanks will also be replaced equiped with higher caliber guns.
In addition, Gapay said one of the sub unit of the mechanized division is the Armor Aviation Battalion.
“Our equipment are fixed-wing aircraft but this time the Army is embarking on upgrading its capability through the acquisition of a rotary-wing helicopters. As a first step we are currently conducting training for pilots, crew, and maintenance,” he said
He added they initially wanted 12 helicopters but “we need 24 attack and utility helicopters for the Philippine Army.”