Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City- To officially mark the start of modernizing the fire power capability of the military’s ground forces, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will conduct a ceremonial distribution of newly acquired Assault Rifles on Tuesday, August 12 at the AFP General Headquarters canopy area.

The President and AFP Commander-in-Chief Benigno Aquino III together with Secretary of National Defense, Voltaire T. Gazmin and AFP Chief of Staff, General Gregorio Pio P. Catapang Jr. are expected to attend the ceremony.

The AFP will distribute a total of 27,300 units of 5.56mm M4 rifles to the Philippine Army and Philippine Marine Corps. These rifles were delivered in two batches last July 5 with 100 units and July 31 with 27,200 units. The remaining 23,329 units are expected to be delivered in December, this year.

The delivery of these newly acquired firearms is part of the Joint Philippine Army – Philippine Marine Corps Assault Rifle Acquisition Project by the government. Under this project, the AFP will receive a total of 50,629 units of M4 rifles with 44,186 to be given to the Army and 6,443 for the Navy.

The contract price was estimated at P1.9 billion which was sourced from the AFP Capability Upgrade Program (CUP) 2012. United States-based Remington Outdoor Company won the public bidding in October 2013.

The approved budget for the contract was about P3.3 billion thus generating a total savings for the government estimated at P1.2 billion. This savings will be used for the procurement of additional rifles, thereby increasing the readiness rating of the Army and the Marines and at the same time, increasing the level of confidence, morale and pride of every soldier especially those serving in the field.

The 5.56mm M4 rifle was prioritized to supplement and replace the early models of M-16 and M-16A1 rifle, majority of which were as old as the Vietnam War era and are already in poor condition and need refurbishing or replacement.

The AFP’s procurement of these brand new assault rifles is part of the thrust to modernize our armed forces, and start it with the individual foot soldier in the field.

One of the major goals of the AFP Modernization Program is the improvement of the mission-essential capability requirements of the AFP in terms of firepower for the ground troops. With this recent acquisition, the AFP is optimistic that it will significantly contribute to the development and transformation of the AFP into a multi-mission-oriented force, capable of effectively addressing both internal and external threats. -with Jessica Gracilla