MANILA — President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. on Thursday told the members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Camarines Sur to be "peacemakers," as the government changes its strategy to combat communist rebels.
During his "Talk to Troops" in Pili town, the commander-in-chief said this is among their plans to encourage rebels to return to the fold.
"Ang mission ng ating mga sundalo ngayon ay medyo nahahalo na, nagbabago na nang kaunti. Whereas before, we asked you all of the individuals, men and women, in the military to be warfighters... But now, the situation is beginning to evolve," Marcos told the 9th Infantry Division.
"Also now, we are asking you to be peacemakers because we have changed our approach to the communist, terrorist groups that we have been encountering," he said.
"We are now not only presenting them with a military force, we are presenting them with other options. We are presenting them with a life after their life as rebels."
Marcos said the military's "additional mission" may be among the reasons why government has "slowly succeeded" in their whole-of-society approach when dealing with the armed movement.
"And now I think even the – although they technically have not abandoned the concept of armed struggle, I think they – efforts of those dissidents had been redirected in another way," he said.
Meanwhile, the Chief Executive said it was important the troops are working to be "sophisticated" and "well-trained" amid mounting external threats and the troop's geographical location.
Marcos described these threats as "complicated and more difficult." He earlier said he could not sleep at night due to the tensions in the West Philippine Sea.
"We can see that it is very close to some of the disputed areas kung saan pumapasok ang mga iba’t ibang barko. Kailangan din nating bantayan ‘yan. Kaya’t ito na naman ay isa pang panibagong mission ninyo," he said.
"I think I am accurate when I describe our military today as being capable and as well prepared as we ever had."
Marcos admitted last week that the country's defense capability still needs improvement, but vowed that his administration is committed to modernizing the military.
Video from RTVM