P-Noy orders speedy release of soldiers' benefits

July 12, 2010 10:36 pm 

MANILA, July 12 — President Benigno S. Aquino III put forward soldiers’ welfare and benefits as among his early concerns for the country’s military as he presided over his first command conference with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Monday at Camp Aguinaldo.

The President conveyed to the AFP leaders his concerns over the pace of delivery of soldiers’ benefits especially for those personnel killed in action.

He said that as far as he knew there were arrears in benefit payments from Malacanang, which has set aside portions of the President’s Social Fund as assistance to AFP members killed in duty.

He said he was meeting with the heads of Department of Budget and Management and the Presidential Management Staff to determine the status of undelivered assistance to slain soldiers and their families and dependents.

“Merong utang ang Office of the President through the President’s Social Fund for those who have been killed in action. This was promised in 2000 and is now a sizeable amount. I will be consulting with the DBM this afternoon and the PMS who manages the fund to ensure na yung utang ng OP ay mababayaran sa lalong madaling panahon,” President Aquino said.

During the command conference, the President also tackled the issue of the AFP modernization, assuring the military that he is now looking into the problems that are besetting the program, particularly those that hinder its funding.

“We are studying the pertinent laws that will enable us or are posing a hindrance to achieving these outlays without massive appropriations in the GAA (General Appropriations Act),” he said.

He said that modernizing the AFP, which he laid out as one of his priority programs, will involve recruiting more soldiers and upgrading their equipment “so that they will be able to do their jobs well.”

The President stressed, however, that the government would not be able to do this alone, so he suggested soliciting the possible assistance of the private sector .

“Napag-usapan yung proposal on how to fund the AFP modernization…and what was proposed today can really help achieve the aims of our modernization program at the soonest possible time by actively soliciting private sector help to assist the government in this,” the President said.

The Chief Executive arrived at the AFP headquarters at 9:40 a.m. and was welcomed by AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Ricardo David, Jr., Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, and the commanders of the three major services of the AFP.

On the way to the conference room following arrival honors, President Aquino, David, and Gazmin briefly posed for photographers at the lobby of the AFP-GHQ with the bust of Artemio Ricarte, the first AFP Chief who served from March 1897 to January 1899.

The President, who is also Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, was ushered to the conference room at the third floor for the two-hour meeting.

He was briefed on the military’s counter-insurgency operations, as well as on the country’s security situation and the AFP organizational structure.

The President then toured the AFP command center (AFPCC) at the second floor of the same building.

The AFPCC is manned by personnel representing the three major services of the AFP and houses the 24-hour center that facilitates direction, coordination, supervision, control, monitoring and evaluation of current combat and AFP-controlled civil assistance operations. (PNA)

DCT/OPS/ssc

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