Poverty may no longer be a stumbling block for gifted Filipinos to join the Philippine Air Force, as a bill filed by Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson seeks to establish a PAF Academy (PAFA).
Lacson said the PAFA will fulfill the constitutional mandate of guaranteeing equal access of opportunity for public service, while professionalizing other career areas of the PAF such as aircraft maintenance, avionics and air logistics.
“The PAF Academy as conceptualized, is geared towards making available an adequate and dedicated corps of professional Air Force officers with the proper education, training and orientation to lead and manage the complex technologies inherent in the field of aviation,” he said in Senate Bill 259.
[Read: Senate Bill 259, Philippine Air Force Academy]
He noted there are highly specialized career fields in the PAF that could not be provided adequately by a traditional military academy such as the Philippine Military Academy.
Also, Lacson noted the PAF Flying Schools (PAFFS), presently the main source of regular PAF officers, could no longer provide the required number and proper training of officer pilots due to inadequate facilities and logistical support. It also requires a college degree, keeping poor Filipinos from serving in the PAF.
Lacson also stressed the need to prevent an unwanted relationship among officers often called “regular officer homogeneity,” which may lead to a potentially explosive political situation.
Under the bill, the PAFA shall be organized and administered by the PAF Commanding General, and be placed under the general supervision and control of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Chief of Staff. It will have an academic board composed of the Superintendent, the Dean of the Corps of Professors, the Commandant of Cadets and heads of departments
Cadets shall be appointed by the President. To be eligible for admission, a candidate cadet must be single, a natural born citizen of the Philippines, between 17 and 22 on April 1 of the year of admission, and at least a high school graduate.
The candidate must also have passed the prescribed physical and mental examination and the National Secondary Assessment Test.
Cadets’ pay and allowances shall be fixed by the President. They shall sign an agreement to complete the course of instruction at the Academy; and accept an appointment and serve as a commissioned officer of the Armed Forces of the Philippines for at least eight years immediately after graduation from the Academy.
A cadet who is found physically and mentally unfit for military assignment due to injury or disease incident to the service, shall be retired with the rank of second lieutenant of the AFP.
Meanwhile, the bill also mandates rules preventing hazing, including punishments for violations such as dismissal and suspension.
Cadets dismissed from the PAFA for hazing shall not be reappointed as an Air Force Cadet and shall be ineligible for appointment as a commissioned officer in the AFP unit after two years from the graduation of the class.