Beefing up military, PNP always a priority: PRRD

By : Priam Nepomuceno, PNA And Jigger Jerusalem, Associate Editor Mindanao Today/09:00:16pm 07/28/2021


Pres. Rodrigo Duterte delivers his final State of the Nation Address on Monday, July 26, 2021. (PCOO Photo)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – President Rodrigo Duterte said strengthening the capability of the country's military and police has always been a priority under his administration, as protesters continue to raise their fists against the chief executive amid incidents of killings, red-tagging, and arrest of dissenters.

In his final State of the Nation Address (SONA) Monday, Duterte said before assuming office in 2016, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) was “ill-equipped” to deal with internal and external threats while the Philippine National Police (PNP) has been overwhelmed with criminality and the illegal drug trade menace.

Duterte said his efforts to strengthen these institutions also aim to boost the morale of its personnel.

“By providing them with the necessary equipment, by enhancing their professional capabilities, and looking after the families of the soldiers who would no 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. We enabled them to carry out their mandate to defeat all enemies of the state whatever the cost," he said.

He also thanked Congress for working with the executive department in enhancing the capabilities of the AFP and the PNP through modernization programs.

Duterte said the continuous upgrading of the country's defense capability shall ensure that the protection of its territorial integrity and sovereignty from external and internal security threats will be upheld.

“Among the new additions, we welcomed the country's two missile-capable warships, to enable us to protect our seas," the President said.

Duterte was referring to the two newly acquired Jose Rizal-class missile frigates – the BRP Jose Rizal and the BRP Antonio Luna – that were acquired from South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries.

Aside from this, Duterte said the government in 2018 has raised the salary of military and uniformed policemen and personnel to a level that is “commensurate to the critical role they play in upholding national security and maintaining order.”

Meanwhile, groups critical to the present government continue to take a jab at Duterte in the remaining few months of his office.

“It is actually Duterte’s shameless fascist attacks against the people even in the middle of a pandemic that are forcing more and more to stand against his tyrannical rule and to brave these threats to march with us here today with the call #DuterteWakasan,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of the human rights group Karapatan.

“In the past five years under Duterte, there is clearly no justice and peace – only State terror and criminal negligence of people’s welfare,” she said.

Palabay said that none of Duterte’s achievements “can overshadow the thousands killed in his murderous policies and programs, and how these atrocities continue with impunity. This is Duterte’s only legacy: a full-blown human rights crisis and democratic backsliding in the Philippines.”

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