PH needs more soldiers, says Bautista

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Military chief of staff Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista: Direct hand in Bayanihan. Photo from http://www.army.mil.ph

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines needs more soldiers to address both external and internal security threats, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Emmanuel Bautista said Friday.

Bautista cited the burgeoning population of the country as a reason to augment the armed forces even as he recognized that the needed expansion would depend on the budget.

“Like what the President said, the population grew to almost 100 million, but the strength of the armed forces did not go with the expansion,” he said.

“The ideal is to hopefully increase the number of our soldiers so we can be more responsive. As of now, the strength of the soldiers is limited based because of budgetary constraint,” he told reporters Friday.

“Pero kami we take it as a challenge as a given in this solution… that we will craft to solve our problems,” he added.

Bautista said the recruitment for soldiers were “subject to budget.”

“Yung limitation kumbaga sa problema that is a given, ito ang problema natin, ito ang mga constraints so we work within that constraints,” he said.

Over the weekend, the New People’s Army ramped up its armed attacks with the ambush of Gingoog Mayor Ruth Guingona.

“It is a wake up call for all of us that we need to stop the violence of the armed struggle,” Bautista said on the incident.

On Thursday, a communist rebel was killed after an encounter with government soldiers who responded to reports of communist rebels demanding “permit to campaign” fees from politicians.

“Nagpapasalamat kami dun sa mga kababayan natin dyan sa Compostela Valley na nagreport ng presence ng mga armado na nanghaharang nanghaharass sa mga kababayan natin,” Bautista said.

The area where the communist rebels put up a roadblock in New Bataan was also identified as one the areas affected by Typhoon Pablo in December.

Bautista, one of the brains behind the military’s current anti-insurgency plan Oplan Bayanihan, also reiterated the importance of the participation of different stakeholders to put an end to armed struggle.

“It’s about time we get together as a nation to finally put an end to violence, to armed struggle, that’s not the solution to our problem,” Bautista said. “It’s a Jurassic concept … passé,” he said.

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