Trillanes to consult AFP hierarchy on bill increasing standing force

January 27, 2014 11:17 pm 

By Jelly F. Musico

MANILA, Jan. 27 (PNA) – Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV on Monday promised to consult with the Armed Forces of the Philippines leadership before coming out with a decision on whether or not to push through with his proposed law increasing the AFP standing force by 20,000 provisional enlisted personnel.

Trillanes made this commitment after some officials of the AFP expressed fears that Senate Bill 1830 would create demoralization among regular enlisted personnel of the military.

”We are assuring that we are approaching this (bill) very carefully. Be assured, sirs, that I will not move forward with this bill if the AFP will not agree,” Trillanes told the AFP officials present during the Senate public hearing on the proposed measure.

In the hearing, AFP Deputy Chief of Staff Rear Admiral Philip Cacayan said while he supports the bill increasing the AFP troops, the recruitment of provisional enlisted personnel might create implication on the morale of the active soldiers.

”If we have provisional soldiers performing with the same duties of regular soldiers but with different rank after five years and different benefits, these may have an implication on the morale of the soldiers,” Cacayan told the panel.

Cacayan also said if the AFP had a preference, “we would rather continue with our current recruitment system where we recruit regular forces rather than provisional system.”

Under the bill, Trillanes said the 20,000 provisional enlisted military personnel will serve for only five years but those who will excel will have the opportunity to be absorbed in the AFP regular units.

”We have manpower shortage in the AFP but we cannot easily recruit this much because of the pension system that we have,” Trillanes said.

Trillanes said he has been consulting with President Benigno S. Aquino III and the Department of National Defense (DND) on the proposed law.

”That’s why I’m wondering there seems to be sudden change of mind but anyway we will consider the issues you have raised today in a technical working group meeting,” Trillanes said.

He added that under his bill, those who will not be absorbed in the regular units will be given separation pay after five years tour of duty.

The senator also said the bill is timely considering various armed groups in Mindanao are expected to come out to oppose the soon to be completed peace agreement between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the government.

”It (the bill) can solve the manpower shortage specially now in the light of the peace agreement with the MILF. We’re expecting some groups to get in the way of that peace agreement. We need more troops this time,” Trillanes, a former Navy officer, said.

Trillanes said he is expecting to solve the internal security problems within five years.

”So by then, our needs will not be as big as they are now. So this is the best we can come up with,” he added.

The bill, Trillanes said, aims to reduce the ballooning cost in terms of pay and retirement benefits and provide a long-term solution to the looming military pension crisis. (PNA)

SCS/JFM

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