LAUR, Nueva Ecija - The Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) Commander-in-Chief paid a visit to the troops participating in this year's Balikatan exercises held in Fort Magsaysay.
President Benigno Aquino III was with Executive Secretary Jojo Ochoa and Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang when he arrived here Wednesday morning.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the United States have been conducting continuous bilateral exercises aimed at enhancing inter-operability between military forces of the two nations.
Demonstrations were given to the President, first with live-fire exercises using tanks and explosives.
Another demonstration was given by the recently trained soldiers on providing medical response to mass casualty incidents.
After the demonstration, President Aquino met with the officers of AFP's Northern Luzon Command, Philipine Army and its 7th Infantry Division.
After lunch, the President met with soldiers and had an interaction with them, a rare occasion for a Commander-in-Chief.
In his speech, the President told soldiers that his administration is pushing vigorously for the housing program for soldiers.
"Sinabihan na po ako ng NHA [National Housing Authority] na bago ako mag-SONA [State of the Nation Address] sa taong ito, pwede nang lipatan yung mga housing units," said the President.
The President requested the soldiers to file their applications this early so that they will have the opportunity to move in to their new houses immediately after the units are completed.
"Baka naman po kasi kung kailan magso-SONA saka pa lang mag-a-apply, marami po kasi tayong bureaucracy," said the President.
In the middle of the interaction, a brownout occurred, which made the President's voice inaudible to the crowd.
But that didn't stop the occasion. Instead, the President stepped down from his podium and walked near the crowd and modulated his voice so that everyone could hear him.
Ten minutes later, power was restored. One soldier stood up, faced the microphone and gave his gratitude to the President for sharing his time with them.
Immediately after the interaction, the President left for Manila.