President Rodrigo Duterte has assured the troops that he will continue the previous administration’s efforts to modernize the military.
A press statement from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office quoted Duterte as saying as much, when the new Commander in Chief visited for the first time the Sixth Infantry Division headquarters at Camp Siongco in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao, on Saturday.
“There will even be no refocusing of the modernization thrust. We will only adjust our priorities,” Duterte was quoted as saying.
“For the time being, we will be attending to the more pressing needs of our soldiers now engaged in focused military operations in Basilan, Sulu, central Mindanao, and other areas in southern Philippines,” Duterte added.
“The procurements will be more of force protection equipment for our soldiers like helmets and vests, more night-fighting systems capability, additional fast crafts for our Navy, additional helicopters capable of night flight for the Navy and Air Force, and more communications equipment,” Duterte said to the gathered troops, personnel officers, among which was AFP Chief of Staff General Ricardo R. Visaya, Army chief Lt. Gen. Eduardo Ano, Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Edgar R. Fallorina, Navy chief Vice Adm. Caesar C. Taccad, and Sixth Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Edmundo R. Pangilinan.
“The AFP appreciates this manifestation of our Commander in Chief Rodrigo Duterte’s genuine concern for our troops in the field who face peril to life and limb on a daily basis,” Visaya said.
“The fast crafts and helicopters will be of immense help in foiling kidnapping attempts by the members of the Abu Sayyaf [Group], among others acts of terrorism and criminality by unscrupulous individuals and groups, these may prevent or curb,” Visaya added.
Visaya also thanked Duterte for committing to allocate budget for the enlistment and training of 10,000 more personnel to beef up the AFP by yearend.
“With this manifest support of the President, it behooves the AFP to accomplish its mission of protecting the people and the atate, securing its sovereignty and the integrity of the national territory,” Visaya said.