(File photo)

MANILA – Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. on Thursday said the excellent public satisfaction ratings received by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will further motivate military personnel in doing their duties.

"This show of trust and confidence will surely motivate our men and women in the AFP even more to continue fulfilling their duties as our nation's defenders," Galvez said in a statement.

The DND chief was referring to the December 2022 survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) where the AFP achieved an "excellent +76" net score for its performance, an increase of nine points from the net of +67 in December 2021.

Conducted with 1,200 adult respondents, the SWS survey also showed the AFP maintaining high confidence scores in addressing internal and external threats to the country's peace and stability.

"On behalf of the entire One Defense Team, I proudly and warmly congratulate our Armed Forces for once again garnering the unequivocal support of the Filipino people with their performance," Galvez said.

He also assured the public that the DND remains committed to supporting the AFP's further development as well as pursuing policies and programs that will enable the organization to better serve the country.

"Amid the complex challenges to our national security, the AFP continues to rise to the occasion and serve the people with integrity, strength, and patriotism," Galvez added.

DND condoles with families of pilots killed in crash

Meanwhile, the DND offered its deepest sympathies and sincerest condolences to the bereaved families of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) pilots who perished in the Siai-Marchetti SF-260TP aircraft mishap in Pilar, Bataan on Wednesday.

The aircraft was from the 15th Strike Wing of the PAF and was undertaking a training flight from Sangley Point, Cavite when the mishap occurred.

"As part of the PAF's standard operating procedures, the entire SF-260(TP) fleet is now grounded. The PAF is currently investigating the incident in coordination with local authorities," it said in a statement.

PAF spokesperson Col. Ma. Consuelo Castillo said the pilots of the SF-260TP were conducting "recurrency training" when it went down at about 10:34 a.m. Wednesday.

“Recurrency training" refers to the training given to aircrew members or pilots to be proficient in a particular aircraft.

Castillo said the ill-fated aircraft was assigned to the 15th Strike Wing, which is based at the Major Danilo Atienza Air Base in Sangley Point, Cavite.

The ill-fated plane had a tail number of 701 and took off to perform "recurrency/training flight" around 10 a.m.

"At around 10:40 a.m. the aircraft was reportedly seen to be descending to a field in Sitio Tabon, Barangay Del Rosario, Pilar, Bataan where it eventually crashed. Two PAF pilots perished in the mishap while no civilian casualties were reported. Our aircraft accident investigation team (is) already at the site for a thorough investigation, while our SF-260TP fleet has been grounded," she added.

The SF-260TP is a highly maneuverable and fully aerobatic basic trainer aircraft of the PAF that serves as a light attack combat aircraft.

It was used during the Marawi siege and various combat missions of the PAF.

It can perform close air support, battlefield air interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, persuasion flight, armed escort, maritime patrol, air cover, flare drop, forward air controller, and aerial demonstration. (PNA)