Duterte, Romualdez assure boost to AFP

Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte and Martin Romualdez
President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte talks to speakership candidate and Leyte Representative-elect Martin Romualdez before their joint visit late Wednesday to the Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry Division at Camp Vicente Lukban in Catbalogan City, Samar to award nine wounded soldiers. Senator-elect Bong Go and Presidential Adviser for the Visayas Michael Dino (not in photo) also joined the visit. (Contributed photo)

FOLLOWING their visit to a military camp in Visayas area, both President Rodrigo Duterte and Leyte Representative elect Martin Romualdez underscored the need to increase the budget for the Armed Forces modernization plan.

Romualdez was invited by President Duterte to join him on his working visit to the military camp in Samar.

According to the incoming Leyte solon the modernization will also improve the welfare of the families of the military personnel.

Romualdez, an adopted honorary member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Sambisig class of 1991, said he would seek a meeting with top military officials to find out from them the legislative measures that need to be prioritized so that government can address the concerns of soldiers and their families. 

“I was asked to join President Duterte in his working visit to the military camp in Samar and I saw the urgent need for Congress to act on the plight of our men and women in the battlefront,” Romualdez, a lawyer and president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa), said.

President Duterte on Wednesday visited the Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry Division in Camp Gen. Vicente Lukban in Catbalogan City, Samar, where the Commander-in-Chief also pinned medals for gallantry on nine soldiers wounded-in-action.    

Aside from Romualdez, those who accompanied President Duterte are Senator-elect Bong Go and Presidential Adviser for the Visayas Michael Dino. 

After seeing the condition of the soldiers recuperating in the hospital, Romualdez, president of Lakas Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD), said the 18th Congress should consider as top priority the allocation of more budget for military personnel who are leading the fight against terrorists and extremists.   

President Duterte earlier announced that government is committed to pouring in P500 million for medical assistance to troops in the battlefield. He also assured that immediate families of the wounded soldiers would also be taken care off.       

“The President has shown, consistently, his concern for our soldiers in the battlefront. It is time for legislators to complement this presidential concern by providing the budget needed to uplift the living condition of our troops,” Romualdez, one of the frontrunners in the speakership race, added. 

The budget increase, he said, must also include the provisions for fast-tracking the second phase of the Philippine military modernization plan which covers the period 2018 to 2022. Under the first phase of the AFP modernization plan, which covered the years 2013 to 2017, at least P85 billion was allocated for the acquisition of assets including combat utility and attack helicopters, frigates, armored vehicles, rifles, and cargo and transport aircraft.

For the second phase, an amount of P125 billion should be earmarked for the acquisition of more equipment for external defense missions, including helicopters, fighter aircraft, multi-role fighters, and missile and radar systems.

Last week, Romualdez was also asked to join the President’s surprise visit to the NAIA, where the Chief Executive ordered the decongestion of the country’s premier airport.