Duterte eyes more troops, fighter jets
President Rodrigo Duterte would want to add 20,000 soldiers to the ranks of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to secure other parts of the country as the military focuses on retaking Marawi from terrorists, Malacañang said on Sunday.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the 125,000-strong AFP needed additional troops to address the various security threats in the country.
“The request of the President for an additional 20,000 troops is part of our intensified security posture to guard areas in the country where there are continuing security threats,” Abella said.
In his State of the Nation Address before Congress last month, the President said he wanted the 85,000-strong Philippine Army to have an additional 20,000 soldiers.
“I want the Army added by about 20,000 fighting men,” Mr. Duterte said.
He said he also wanted the 175,000-strong Philippine National Police augmented by 10,000 more policemen, particularly Special Action Force members.
“I’m quite comfortable with the number now assigned in the precincts and in the environs of provinces and cities,” the President said.
“I would need about 35,000 to 40,000 to meet the future threats coming our way from within and outside the country and I will start also to rearm,” he said.
In his visit to Marawi on Aug. 4, the President again reiterated his plan to reinforce the ranks of the military and the police to fight Islamic extremism.
“I am asking money to add 20,000 to the Armed Forces and 10,000 to the police. You can never allow this ideology [of Islamic extremism] to spread. To the last man, there will really be killing,” Mr. Duterte said.
Earlier, the President also said he planned to double the size of the Philippine Air Force’s (PAF) fleet of fighter jets by buying 12 more FA-50PH aircraft from South Korea.
The Air Force currently has 12 supersonic FA-50PHs.
“I want to build a strong nation,” the President told the PAF in a recent speech, adding that he hopes to supplement that with modern equipment for the police.
The Philippines bought 12 FA-50H jets from the Korean Aerospace Industry for P18.9 billion during the Aquino administration.
The jets were purchased as part of the AFP’s modernization program.
“I assure you that we will build on our past gains to further strengthen the Philippine Air Force,” Mr. Duterte said at the 70th anniversary of the PAF.
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