MANILA, Aug. 2 — President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed his desire to recruit additional soldiers to reinforce the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) amid reports of terror groups’ other planned attacks in Mindanao, senators said Wednesday.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senator Juan Edgardo Angara made this confirmation a day after President Duterte summoned senators and congressmen for a meeting on Tuesday (August 1).
“The President said he would like to upgrade Armed Forces in terms of capabilities and personnel and I think those reforms are necessary,” Angara told reporters in an interview.
In a separate interview, Drilon said that it was Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana who requested for “additional manpower” of “about 20,000 soldiers.”
Both senators said that these requests were made following intelligence reports on “new threats” posed by the Islamic State (ISIS) group in the South.
“(The President) briefed us on the intelligence information on new threats posed by the ISIS in the South and he is looking into at a closer regional cooperation with neighboring countries particularly Indonesia,” Drilon said.
Angara said that the Senate has expressed willingness to help through filing appropriate measures to support initiatives to upgrade the Armed Forces.
Senators Richard Gordon and Panfilo Lacson also agreed with the President’s plan.
“The Marawi threat was just a culmination of it and it can go to other places like Surigao, Agusan, Sulu, Zamboanga so we really would require a beefing up of our Armed Forces,” Gordon said.
Lacson said President Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao and request to extend it were also right decisions made in hindsight.
“On hindsight, tama yung ginawa ng Presidente on how he addressed the Marawi crisis dahil kung hindi ganun yung pagka-address baka nag-spillover (the President did the right thing on how he addressed the Marawi crisis because if he didn’t address it that way, it might have spilled over),” Lacson said.
“In spite of so many objections, mas mainam na rin yun ang ginawa niya (In spite of many objections, it’s better that he did that),” Lacson said.