President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Tuesday, May 22, joined the celebration of the Philippine Navy’s 120th anniversary, assuring the soldiers and marines of the government’s efforts to enhance their capability.
In his speech, President Duterte announced that the government is currently working on implementing the Second Horizon of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program, which encompasses a number of projects for the Philippine Navy amounting to P77 billion.
“We live in exciting times for our armed forces as we further enhance the capability of our Navy,” the President said.
“Since the beginning of this administration, I have exerted efforts to upgrade your equipment and artillery,” he added.
These include the additional two units of TC90 aircraft, two units of multi-purpose assault crafts and one strategic sealift vessel, among others.
Duterte also announced that Jordan is giving the country two Cobra helicopters.
Among the highlights of the anniversary celebration include the Navy’s capability demonstration on amphibious operations, counter-terrorism, and hostage crisis response by the Naval Special Operations Group and the Marines Special Operations Group.
Aside from showcasing the Navy’s capabilities, the event honored outstanding units, officers and enlisted personnel for serving with honor and excellence.
The President congratulated the Philippine Navy for its 120 years of unwavering service, sacrifice, dedication and commitment to “defend our shores, protect our seas, and secure our maritime borders.”
“To the brave soldiers and marines of our Navy, you have made the Filipino people proud and continue to do so with gallantry in defending our sovereignty in our territorial waters, particularly in the West Philippine Sea,” he said.
Duterte also recognized the efforts of the men and women of the Navy and Marines in the liberation of Marawi.
“It was only last year when we celebrated the Philippine Navy’s anniversary during the Marawi Siege. Then, we honored the heroic efforts of the men and women of the Navy and Marines in the liberation of Marawi. Today, we once again honor them as we make significant progress in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of that city,” he said.
At the same time, the President recognized the Navy’s accomplishments and contributions in humanitarian assistance, maritime law enforcement, counter-terrorism, and disaster relief operations.
“These noble endeavors have made our kababayans feel safer in challenging circumstances,” he said.
The Chief Executive likewise expressed confidence that together with the AFP, the country can realize its aspiration of building a strong and resilient nation.
Meanwhile, President Duterte reiterated that he cannot afford to go to war at this time and cannot go into a battle which he cannot win, noting that it would only result in the destruction and probably a lot of losses for the Armed Forces.
“It has something to do with my desire to defend but at the same time not to make any move that would be destructive to the nation,” he said.
“Ako gusto ko, I really want to do something to assert. But you know, when I assumed the presidency, there was already this ruckus in the West Philippine Sea. It used to be China Sea,” he further said.
Also during his speech, the Chief Executive discussed the “so many” problems involving the police until now and that the government is struggling to correct things.
Duterte said he is considering returning the training of police personnel to the Philippine National Police (PNP), noting that the current system is not working and is producing “lousy men.”
“I think that I might return the training itself and the militaristic activity training of the police back to the PNP itself. It has not done good since we transfer it to a public safety, with due respect to General De Leon who was assigned in Davao City before,” he said.
“He’s very competent but the system is — it ain’t working. And we’re producing, to my mind, some lousy men getting into the service under questionable circumstances,” he added.
The President noted that some criminals and some who are into drugs got into the police service.
“Nagkulang tayo doon sa background check and even the matter of the protocol of joining the police. Marami diyan mga salbahe na who are really criminals, but who maneuvered somehow to get into the service. And some of them, sadly, are really into drugs,” he said.
Duterte also mentioned the warming relations between Kuwait and the Philippines, following the granting of the conditions protecting the welfare of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
“We’re okay now with Kuwait, we’re okay now with Kuwait. My conditions were met,” he said.
Among these conditions are a guaranteed seven-hour sleep, no physical abuse, non-confiscation of cellphones and passports, and a day off.
“And frankly I’d like to thank officially the Kuwait government for giving us these conditions, which would better place in a more — maski konting kaligayahan lang naman sa mga OFWs,” he said.
“And I think that would be really, from now on, the conditions that would be a condition sine qua non before we enter into context about our brothers and sisters abroad,” the President noted. PND