NUEVA ECIJA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte announced on Tuesday, July 26, that he would grant an "incremental" salary increase to soldiers by August.
This, he said, is in partial fulfillment of his campaign promise to double the salaries of military and police in 3 years.
"Starting next month incremental increase suweldo 'nyo. Pangako ko doblado (I promise double), you will get it," the President told soldiers at Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija.
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno had recently told media an increase in the salaries will have to be put on hold for at least a year due to other pressing financial matters.
Duterte, however, asked Diokno to find a way to make his promise a reality.
"Sabi ko kay Sec Diokno, mapahiya ako sa sundalo. Sabi ko, 'You have to look for a way,'" said Duterte, to applause and cheers from the rougly 500 soldiers listening to him.
(I told Secretary Diokno, I will lose face in front of the soldiers. I said, 'You have to look for a way.')
Though Duterte mentioned his target of doubling their salaries, he did not give a time frame for when he wants this done.
As in his previous visits to military camps, Duterte promised his all-out support for the Armed Forces of the Philippines. He said he wanted to add as many as 20,000 more soldiers and purchase more equipment such as fast boats and state-of-the-art guns.
"I assure you, I will give you everything you need to carry out your mandate," said Duterte.
The President also lightened the mood with a few jokes.
"Simple lang buhay sundalo. Hanap talaga ng inom 'yan at hahanap ng babae...na makausap (The soldier's life is simple. Just look for a drink and look for a woman...to talk to.)," he said, eliciting chuckles from the troops.
He ended his speech by assuring them, "I cannot make you happy but I can make your lives comfortable." – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.