MANILA: Army and Marine soldiers were given new “spouses” as they received newly-acquired M4 assault rifles for security operations.
The distribution of new rifles will enable soldiers to divorce their antiquated M16s that are as old as the Vietnam War.
The new rifles were distributed yesterday in a ceremony led by President Aquino in Camp Aguinaldo.
“I think our troops’ morale will become high because these (rifles) serve as their spouses when they are in combat,” Armed Forces chief Gen Gregorio Catapang Jr told reporters in an interview.
Catapang said the last recorded procurement of military rifles was from 1974 to 1978.
Aquino said the acquisition of new rifles was made possible by good governance.
“The proofs of meaningful reforms are very visible,” the President said in Filipino.
Aquino said the sorry state of military equipment in the past had forced soldiers to improvise.
He said that there was a time when Marines guarding the Kalayaan Island Group in West Philippine Sea had to use a coconut tree that they painted black to make it appear that they have cannons.
Aquino said he had also seen a video showing a soldier putting oil on his rusty firearm to make it work.
The government has acquired 50,629 units of M4 rifles from American firearms manufacturer Remington Outdoor Company for P1.9bn, lower than the approved budget of P3.3bn.
Officials said 44,186 rifles would be given to the Army while 6,443 will be distributed to the Marines.
A total of 27,200 of these rifles were delivered last month while the rest will arrive in December.
The M4 Carbine is a lighter and shorter variant of the M16A2 assault rifle. The two have roughly 80 percent of their parts in common. The M4 rifle, however, is more cost efficient and can be used for close quarter combat.
THE PHILIPPINE STAR