Mindanao has large concentration of terrorist groups
President Rodrigo Duterte said he wanted a stronger military and police force to prepare for “dangerous times ahead” in the Philippines.
He urged Congress to pass measures that will provide the Armed Forces and the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) with more assets and equipment before the end of his term in 2022.
“I hope that Congress would tide us over to complete the instruments that we need in dealing, especially with terrorism,” Duterte said in his speech during the appreciation dinner for former President and outgoing House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at the Manila Hotel on Tuesday (July 9) night.
Although he was not belittling the capabilities of the next President, Duterte said he simply wanted a completed modernization program before he exits.
“I hope that by the time I make my exit, nandiyan na lahat ‘yan (it’s all there) because I am not belittling the events to come or the person coming in to be the next president,” Duterte said.
“I’d rather that I leave with a strong military and police and equipped to challenge the enemies of the state, especially terrorism,” he added.
The chief executive warned of “dangerous times ahead”, especially in areas of Mindanao where there is a larger concentration of terrorist groups.
“I see very dangerous times ahead. And I hope that we will be able to contain whatever there is to really to… Lumalabas nga ‘yung pawis sa kamay ko (My hands are sweating) just thinking about if it would go awry outside of Sulu and Basilan Islands,” Duterte said.
Duterte further stressed the need to continue acquiring more assets and equipment because of the threats that lie ahead.
“So that I said, I must be prepared. And nabili ko na ho ‘yung mga kailangan (I have bought what is needed), but there are still a few things that I must have for my Armed Forces and the police,” Duterte said.
“And one of these days, I will call for a — just — for a time to talk and we’ll talk about it because it’s really needed by the country,” he added.
PNP spokesperson Col. Bernard Banac, for his part, described Duterte’s remark as an “accurate and honest assessment” of trends in terrorism, transnational crime, and cross-border criminal activity.
Noting that these problems required greater flexibility and capability of military and police forces, Banac thanked the national government for being “responsive” to the situation.
He stressed that since Duterte’s assumption in 2016, the PNP has been provided with not just operational requirements but also morale and welfare services, which have improved living standards of uniformed personnel and their families.
“Over the last three years, the PNP has been able to keep up with our modernization and development plan with the procurement of more and better equipment and recruitment of more personnel,” Banac said.
“Between now and three years hence, the PNP is in a better position to perform its law enforcement and public safety mandate thru enhanced operational capability,” he added. (With reports from Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)