MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte is once again pushing for better benefits for police and military personnel as he asked Congress during his final State of the Nation Address (SONA) Monday to pass laws augmenting their perks.
"I am asking Congress to pass a unified system of separation, retirement, and pension of military and uniformed personnel to maintain government fiscal flexibility and provide adequate benefits and remuneration to men and women in uniform," Duterte said.
Aside from that, the President likewise said Congress must pass a law that would institutionalize the provision of free legal services to police and military officers facing work-related cases.
"It is also high time for us to pass a law that would provide free legal assistance to AFP and PNP officers, enlisted personnel to help them from charges arising from incidents related to the performance of official duty," he said.
Duterte had repeatedly promised to "protect" police officers and soldiers at the forefront of his bloody war on drugs amid mounting international criticism.
The President admitted he made it a "priority" to boost the morale and beef up the "ill-equipped" security forces.
"Our armed forces were ill-equipped to deal with internal and external threats while the police force was overwhelmed by criminality and the drug trade... This is why I made it a priority to strengthen the institutions."
In 2018, police officers, soldiers and other uniformed personnel started receiving higher salaries after Duterte approved a joint resolution by Congress modifying their base pay schedule.
"Indeed I am proud of the accomplishments of our troops in securing our nation against all threats to our democratic institutions," Duterte said.
Duterte has been accused of favoring police and military personnel, with some of them appointed to several cabinet positions post-retirement.