February 23, 2024

Speaker vows modern AFP, ‘robust defense posture’

SPEAKER Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez on Wednesday assured the military that the House of Representatives is committed to a “strong, modern, well-equipped” and “well-cared-for” soldiery that would defend the country from internal and external threats. 

The leader of the 300-plus-strong House made the assurance in his remarks during the Mindanao leg of the Armed Forces of the Philippines-House of Representatives fellowship.

Several congressmen and AFP officers led by Chief of Staff Gen. Romeo Brawner attended the event at the 4th Infantry Division Headquarters in Cagayan de Oro City.

Romualdez told his audience that the House, consistent with the vision of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., “is committed to a strong, modern, well-equipped military establishment.”

He noted that Congress has significantly increased the budget for defense for this year to P285 billion, which includes the realignment of P1.23 billion “for front-liners to maintain a credible posture in defending our rights, particularly in the West Philippine Sea.”

He said the legislature, notably the House, has also reallocated funds, including P300 million to the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, P100 million to the National Security Council and P381.3 million to the Department of Transportation for the expansion of the airport in Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea.

“Our dedication extends beyond financial support. Recognizing the importance of high morale, we passed House Bill 8969, creating a sustainable fiscal framework for military pensions. This, along with various initiatives such as House Bills 6517, 11, 7764, and 6375, demonstrates our commitment to enhancing our military’s capabilities and welfare,” he said.

He added that by taking these measures, Congress is “ensuring a robust defense posture, bolstering our land, air, and naval forces, and supporting peacekeeping missions.”

“These actions reflect our unwavering commitment to national security, territorial integrity, and the well-being of our soldiers. The true strength of our defense lies not just in our modernized assets but in the valor of our personnel,” the House leader stressed.

He pointed out that Congress has also taken steps “to improve the lives of our soldiers and their families.” 

Such steps include increasing the soldiers’ base pay, expanding healthcare benefits, and initiating new housing and educational programs, and the approval of the MUP (Military and Uniformed Personnel) Pension System Act, which would ensure the financial stability and well-being of uniformed personnel, he said.

“Our collective efforts symbolize a strong, well-equipped, and cared-for military, ready to uphold our sovereignty with honor and integrity. Let us continue to work together for a free, united, peaceful, and progressive Philippines,” Speaker Romualdez said.

He commended the military for its “professionalism and dedication” to duty. 

“The steadfastness of our uniformed personnel, in protecting our territorial integrity and remaining non-partisan amidst political noise, is truly commendable. Your unwavering duty as sentinels of our sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea and beyond is a stabilizing force for our nation,” he said.

He also thanked General Brawner and organizers of the HOR-AFP fellowships, as well as his House colleagues and other military officers for participating in such events.

“Such gatherings are crucial for fostering civility, courtesy, and deeper personal connections, which are essential in understanding each other better,” he said.