MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday vowed to provide members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) "everything" that they need to secure peace and order in the country.
Speaking before soldiers in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija, Duterte reiterated his earlier promise to increase the salary of military and police personnel -- but incrementally.
Duterte acknowledged that his administration would not be able to immediately double the basic salary of government forces since this year's budget was already prepared last year, or before he assumed office.
But the President said he already directed Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno to "look for a way."
"Starting next month, mag-incremental increase na ang suweldo ninyo. Pangako ko, doblado," Duterte told the soldiers. "You will get it. 'Saka I assure you, walang nagmahal nun sa pulis na abot sa standard ko."
Duterte added that he told Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana that he might also be able to give "one-half additional soldiers."
The President earlier acknowledged the need to add about 10,000 to 20,000 military forces in Mindanao for the government's fight against terror groups such as the Abu Sayyaf.
'I WILL PROTECT YOU'
The President also guaranteed the soldiers of protection, saying he will not allow uniformed personnel to go to jail if they commit a crime in the performance of their duty.
"Ang pulis nun, mga mayor, protektado ko. Mahal ko ang pulis at walang pulis nakukulong dun," the long-time mayor of Davao City said.
"If it is in the performance of your duty sa pagkasundalo mo, wala kayong isipin. I will also protect you," Duterte said.
Duterte, in his speech, also vowed to provide the military the equipment it needs in order to have a strong armed forces that can protect the Filipino people and the integrity of the country.
His duty as president, he stressed, is to find peace for the Philippines and its people.
"I will give you everything that you need to have to carry out your mandate. Go ahead. Panahon na ninyo," said Duterte. "I cannot make you happy, but ito ang i-guarantee ko, remember, this afternoon: I can make your lives comfortable."