By Martin Sadongdong
All personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will donate a portion of their salary to help the Duterte administration address the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesperson, said their donation will be deducted from the base pay of each personnel for the month of May since their salaries for April were already out for payment. He said it will be available by the third week of April.
“Each regular member of the AFP — from the highest ranking general to the lowest ranking personnel — will donate an amount based from a certain percentage deduction from their respective base pays for the month of May,” Arevalo said.
Arevalo said the percent deduction will be equitable according to rank with AFP Chief of Staff General Felimon Santos Jr. giving the biggest contribution worth P10,484 while the lowest ranking soldier with a rank of Private (Philippine Army), Airman (Philippine Air Force), or Apprentice Seaman (Philippine Navy) will be donating P100.
Arevalo said they are expected to raise P16,953,490.04 considering the AFP’s present fill-up of personnel exccluding the civilian employees.
The funds that will be raised will be turned over to the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) for the procurement of medical supplies and equipment of healthcare workers and other frontliners.
“With this amount drawn from our individual base pays for a month, we hope to help augment [the] scarce government resources,” Santos said.
The AFP’s initiative came after President Duterte approved the extension of the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon until April 30.
In a public address on Monday night, Duterte said the P270-billion budget of the national government allotted to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in the economy will “not be sufficient.”
“I’m calling on the Secretary of Finance [Carlos Dominguez III] to generate [money]. Magnakaw ka, manghiram ka, wala akong pakialam, i-produce mo ‘yung pera kasi kapag naubos na ito, hindi ko malaman (Steal or borrow, I don’t care, just produce the money because if it runs out, I don’t know [what will happen],” he said.
As such, Santos hopes that through the AFP’s gesture, the military will be able to “share the burden in the nation’s fight against this contagion.”