Cayetano: Increasing police, military pay a 'leap of faith'

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News

DAVAO CITY - Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Friday admitted that prioritizing the salary increase of policemen and military personnel over those of other government workers is a "leap of faith" for the incoming administration of Rodrigo Duterte.

Cayetano, who arrived here yesterday to meet with the incoming president, said significantly increasing the salaries of law enforcement personnel is necessary in efficiently fighting crimes.

He also acknowledged that prioritizing the salaries of policemen and soldiers would distort the pay scale of government, but "we realized that solving the problem will not be problem-less also, will not be seamless."

"Hindi mo maitataas ang pulis, then the police will be the syndicates of crime itself... So we're going to take the leap of faith na magbubusina muna sa ibang government offices na 'pasensya kayo 'di muna natin masasabay-sabay,'" Cayetano told reporters.

"[Duterte] has a framework already in his mind — how many generals [ang involved sa corruption], bakit corrupt ang generals. Part of that framework are the two kinds of corruption — corruption by greed and corruption by need. Iyung 'need' ang gusto niyang tanggalin."

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Cayetano, who was tasked by Duterte to craft a legislative plan for the salary increase, said that in the meantime, the Duterte administration will work on improving the benefits of other government workers so they would not feel left behind.

"That's why one of things we are looking at now, kung 'di mo mataas ang sweldo paano mo itataas ang benefits," he said.

One such benefit is improving the healthcare coverage of government workers through Philhealth and giving full tertiary education scholarships to their children.

"It's not easy to do but it's doable. Kasi kung sasabihin mo, plus P10,000 ka a month, tatlo naman ang nasa college mo, pero yung tatlong nasa college mo scholar ng gobyerno," he said.

Duterte, who won on a platform of crushing criminality in the Philippines, has repeatedly stressed that having well-paid police and military force is vital to maintaining peace order.

"These are the guys we send to the mouths of hell. If there's a breakout of hostilities, are they prepared to be commissioned there and fight until they die?" Duterte said of other government workers who will be sidelined by the salary increase.