President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Monday thanked Congress for working with his administration in upgrading the capability of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP), and other armed services in the country.
In his last State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the Batasang Pambansa, President Duterte expressed his gratitude to lawmakers for working with the executive department in enhancing the capabilities of the AFP and the PNP through the government modernization program.
The President recalled that in 2018, the government raised the salaries of military and uniformed policemen and personnel to a level commensurate to the critical role they play in upholding national security and maintaining order.
To continue strengthening the capability of the country’s security forces, he asked Congress to pass a Unified System for Separation, Retirement and Pension of Military and Uniformed Personnel aimed at maintaining government fiscal flexibility and providing adequate benefits and remuneration to men and women in uniform.
He clarified, however, that this would apply only to the new entrants of the military and uniformed services.
“It is also high time for us to pass a law providing Free Legal Assistance to AFP and PNP Officers and Enlisted Personnel to help defend them from charges arising from incidents related to the performance of official duty,” he said.
“The continuous upgrading of our defense capability shall ensure that we shall uphold our territorial integrity and sovereignty from external and internal security threats, among the new additions. We welcomed the country’s two missile-capable warships, to enable us to protect our seas.”
The President argued that by providing them with the necessary equipment, by enhancing their professional capabilities, and by taking care of their families, the government will not only strengthen the military and police institutions, it will also inspire its members to serve the nation with the highest degree of loyalty and patriotism.
“We enabled them to carry out their mandate to defeat all enemies of the state whatever the cost,” the President said, adding he is proud of the accomplishments of the country’s military in securing the nation against all threats to the democratic institutions.
While there’s a need to attain peace, this is not solely through the use of the military and it’s the reason why his government deviated from the traditional approach in dealing with national security matters.
With the creation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict or NTF-ELCAC, the President said the government has made great strides in addressing the root causes of the conflict by empowering the members of the public used by the communists for many decades.
The government has been building safe and conflict-resilient barangays, and has worked towards the sustainable rehabilitation and development of communities where the communists used to operate, he said.
“Through the NTF-ELCAC, we invested in farm-to-market roads, school buildings, water and sanitation systems, health stations, and livelihood projects,” the President said.
“Because of these interventions, more than 17,000 former communist rebels have surrendered to the government. They have returned to the fold of the law and are happily reintegrating to society.”
He expressed optimism that with the support of the local government units (LGUs), the communist movement will continue to lose its influence in the coming months, enabling the government to put an end to the communist insurgency.
At the same time, President Duterte asked the members of Congress to investigate the importer of AK-47 rifles that fell into the hands of the enemy of the state, and have killed many members of the military.
“This policeman, I think, is still there. He was a colonel and he is still… Walang nangyari. At maraming sundalong namatay dahil sa mga armas na pinasok nila dito sa Pilipinas,” he said. PND