President Rodrigo Duterte (File photo by SIMEON CELI JR. / Presidential Photographers Division)
ZAMBOANGA CITY — President Rodrigo Duterte said on Tuesday that he was not trying to increase his influence on the military by appointing more retired generals in his Cabinet. But he assured troops that they would be getting more benefits.
“I’m not trying to build myself up with the military because I do not need that,” he said, speaking partly in Filipino, during his visit to Jolo on Tuesday afternoon to commemorate the 77th Araw ng Kagitingan.
“The people elected me. But I have a special fondness for the military for being fundamentally honest and industrious,” Duterte said.
Top military officials and Cabinet secretaries who were retired generals escorted Duterte in Sulu.
Among the members of his entourage were Gen. Benjamin Madrigal, the Armed Forces chief of staff; Lt. Gen. Arnel de la Vega, commander of the Western Mindanao Command; Lt. Gen. Macairog Alberto, the commanding general of the Philippine Army; Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rolando Bautista; Defense Undersecretary Ricardo David; and Secretary Arthur Tabaquero, one of the presidential advisers to the peace process.
In the earlier part of his speech, Duterte committed to pouring in P500 million for the medical assistance of troops wounded in the battlefield.
“In Marawi, I released five-hundred [million] right away for those who would need further medical attention. And I will continue to release five-hundred [million] more and 500 more millions to my soldiers who do something for their country,” the President said.
He said he would pour in P50 million a month for military hospitals, particularly the V Luna General Hospital, which was getting P50 million a month, and the Philippine General Hospital, which got an increase to P100 a month, from P64 million a month, under his administration.
“So anywhere you want to go for medication… I am ready too,” the President said.
He also assured that immediate families of the wounded soldiers would also be taken care off.
“Do not worry I have three years,” he told soldiers. “I will see to it that you will have funds when you retire and that your school — ah your children and their schooling — will be assured even if we are no longer there.”
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