President Duterte urged Congress to pass two new laws that will benefit government troops as he looked back at how he improved the capability of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to help them carry out their duties to the public.
Duterte made the statement as he delivered his final State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 26.
In his speech, the President said the government troops were ill-equipped in handling communist insurgency and the proliferation of illegal drugs and criminality.
“Our armed forces were ill-equipped to deal with internal and external threats, while the police force had been overwhelmed by criminality and the drug trade problem,” he said.
“This is why I made it a priority to strengthen the institution and boost the morale of the men and women of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the Philippine National Police, and other armed services,” he added.
Duterte thanked Congress for working with the executive department in enhancing the capabilities of the AFP and the PNP through the government’s modernization program.
He, in particular, mentioned how Congress helped in raising the salaries of the military and uniformed policemen and personnel to a level commensurate to the critical role they play in upholding national security and maintaining order.
The President called on Congress to pass a Unified System for Separation, Retirement, and Pension of Military and Uniformed Personnel to maintain government fiscal flexibility and provide adequate benefits and remuneration to the men and women in uniform.
However, he said this shall apply only to the new entrants of the military and uniformed services.
“Hindi ho lahat (Not everyone will be covered),” Duterte said.
“It cannot be that we have to pay so many, even the salaries of the retired. They get a chunk of the big budget. And if we include the new entrants, the funds available for them would not be enough,” he added.
The President said it was also high time 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.
Meanwhile, Duterte said the continuous upgrading of the country’s defense capability shall ensure that the Philippines will be able to uphold its territorial integrity and sovereignty from external and internal security threats.
In particular, he mentioned the two new missile-capable warships that would enable the country to protect its seas.
“By providing them with the necessary equipment, by enhancing their professional capabilities, and looking after the families of the soldiers who would not longer be in their company, we do not only strengthen our military and police institutions – we also inspire them to serve this nation with the highest degree of loyalty and patriotism,” Duterte said.
“We enable them to carry out their mandate to defeat all enemies of the state whatever the cost,” he added