MANILA - President Aquino said the military now is a far cry from what it was during the time of his predecessor.
In his speech during the change of command ceremony at the Philippine Army headquarters, Aquino said the military now is better equipped, with the needs of soldiers being addressed.
He said this was the opposite during his predecessor's time, pointing out the practice of "pabaon" for retiring generals and corruption scandals.
"Napakalayo na ng kalagayan ng ating Sandatahang Lakas ngayon kumpara sa ating dinatnan. Noon, nabahiran ng katiwalian ang inyong institusyon; habang nagpapamudmod ng pabaon sa inyong mga heneral, kapiranggot at kulang-kulang na benepisyo napupunta sa ating mga sundalo. Ang sabi ko nga, kung sino pa ang nagmamalasakit sa bayan, ay sila pa'ng kinakawawa at pinapabayaan," Aquino said.
Aquino said more equipment will be acquired for the Army, including force protection equipment, 40 mm grenade launchers, assault rifles, and armored personnel carriers. He also said that there has been an increase in combat pay and subsistence allowance and housing for military personnel.
"Sa lahat ng ito, makakaasa kayong ang pondong para sa mga kawal ay hindi ninanakaw; sinusuklian natin ang pagkalinga ninyo sa ating mamamayan, at binibigyan kayo ng sapat na kakayahang tuparin ang inyong tungkulin," he said.
Major General Eduardo Año was formally installed as the 57th Army commanding general, replacing Lieutenant General Hernando Iriberri who was recently named AFP chief of staff.
Aquino said he does not know Año personally but said that he is confident in his abilities. He cited Año's role in the arrest of Jovito Palparan and communist leaders Benito Tiamzon and wife Wilma.
"Batid natin: Ang tagumpay na ito ay hindi dinaan sa tsamba, bagkus sa mahusay na estratehiya at dedikasyong tugisin ang masasamang elemento sa lipunan ni Major General Año," Aquino said.
During the ceremony, Aquino also awarded promotions to Captain Neil Edward Camarillo and Sergeant Gilbert Balonga for their role in operations that led to the death of NPA leader Kumander Parago in Davao.