Duterte assures AFP of his support; soldiers to get salary increase
CEBU CITY-President Rodrigo Duterte has assured members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Central Command (Centcom) of his support and, in return, asked for their cooperation especially in the war against illegal drugs.
Aside from increased in pay, he told at least 200 soldiers gathered at the Bondad Hall inside Camp Lapu-Lapu, Centcom headquarters located in Cebu City, that he would improve the equipment of the AFP Medical Center in Camp Aguinaldo.
Among the facilities that would purchase for the AFP Medical Center were Gamma X-ray, high pressure oxygen chambers, and an MRI machine.
President Duterte also assured the soldiers that he would not turn his back if they would get sued while doing their jobs.
“Uunahin ko kayo (I will make you my priority),” Mr. Duterte told the soldiers from the Army, Navy and Air Force who had been waiting for him more than seven hours.
They had been at the Bondad Hall since 2 p.m. for the scheduled “Talk to Men.” The podium had the seal of the President while a big tarpaulin was hanging on the wall with letters that read “Central Command Welcomes President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, Commander-in-Chief.”
They were standing for five hours or from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. By 8 p.m., some were already squatting on the floor.
Mr. Duterte was expected to be at Centcom headquarters at 4:15 p.m., but he arrived past 7 p.m. on board a chopper.
He was at Camp Macario Peralta, headquarters of the Philippine Army 3rd Infantry Battalion in Capiz before flying to Cebu on board a private plane that landed at Mactan Benito Ebuen Air Base at 6:57 p.m. and took a chopper to Centcom.
He immediately held a security briefing with military officials in the Visayas led by Lt. Gen. Nicanor Vivar, Centcom chief.
He went up the stage at 9:45 p.m. and apologized to the soldiers for keeping them waiting.
But the wait was worth it after President Duterte announced that their salaries would be doubled by December this year and their hospital would have better facilities.
“I went to AFP Medical Center the other night and I was really appalled that a big hospital such as yours doesn’t have the important things that can save lives,” he said.
In his almost 45-minute speech, Mr. Duterte vowed to improve the facilities as well as construct a new building and demolish the old one that was built in the 1950s.
“I don’t need your personal loyalty. Just love the country and obey the constitution,” he said.
Mr. Duterte said Davao City where he was mayor for several years became what it was today because of the cooperation of the police and Army.
The President urged them to do their mandate and he would do the rest.
He said police and the Army shouldn’t be worried about cases filed against them in the course of their work because he would pardon them.
“If you rape someone, you’ll go to jail. If you shoot someone on the job and you get sued… pardon,” he said.
He also mentioned the rising numbers of drug suspects who surrendered which he said reached about 500,000 and of drug-related killings.
He said that while it is necessary to put drug users inside rehabilitation centers, some of them may already be beyond help.
“Forensics experts say that if you’ve been a constant drug user for one year, your brain shrinks. Rehab is no longer viable,” he said.
To address the lack of rehabilitation centers in the country, he said he intends to build the facilities in every region.
Mr. Duterte asked the military to provide a space in their camp for drug rehabilitation centers.
President Duterte also said that terrorism will become a problem for the Philippines and wants to be prepared when it comes.
He said that there will definitely be no peace negotiations with the Abu Sayyaf Group and that he is bent on destroying them.
“When I was still mayor, I said there will be a reckoning to all this. We will collect someday. Finish them all down to the last man,” he stressed.
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