SENATOR Robinhood “Robin” C. Padilla on Tuesday called for better accommodations and facilities for soldiers, especially those keeping watch over the country’s territory in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
At the Senate hearing for the 2023 budget of the Department of National Defense (DND), Padilla stressed the need to keep the morale of our soldiers up – particularly those aboard the deteriorating BRP Sierra Madre.
“Inikot ko po kasi ang mga isla doon, lalo din ang sa (BRP) Sierra Madre, ganoon din po, kawawa sila doon. Yun lang po, sana rin gumanda nang kaunti ang kanilang tulugan doon,” said Padilla, who visited parts of WPS in 2021.
The BRP Sierra Madre is an old vessel that ran aground and then turned into an outpost to watch over Philippine territory in WPS.
Padilla said it is only proper to lift the morale of our enlisted personnel in the area, including modernizing their aging equipment.
“Sa tapang at abilidad walang tatalo sa Pilipino, talagang tayo na. Wala talagang inaatrasan,” Padilla said.
Meanwhile, Padilla also called for proper allowances and benefits for members of the Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU), who are helping address the insurgency problem.
He noted former President Rodrigo Duterte issued Executive Order (EO) 110 in 2020, granting benefits to heroic soldiers and CAFGU members killed or wounded during legitimate military operations. Faustino replied that they are implementing these.
Padilla added the DND’s proposed 2023 budget includes P3.829 billion for 69,938 CAFGUs, including a P4,500 monthly allowance and an added P2,000 as mandated by former President Duterte.
Also, Padilla pushed for more rewards for our soldier athletes, who he said not only defend the country but also bring glory to it in international sporting events.
“Gusto ko lang banggitin for the record ang akin pong paghanga sa atin pong mga sundalong atleta na bukod sa pagganap ng kanilang mga tungkulin para sa bayan ay patuloy din pong nagdadala na karangalan para sa bansa sa pamamagitan ng mga kompetisyong internasyonal,” he said at the hearing.
Padilla asked the DND leadership if they have ensured the proper benefits for our soldier athletes, especially if they win medals in international competitions.
The DND OIC (Officer-in-Charge) replied that soldier athletes get sufficient pay and benefits, as well as rewards such as promotions and awards.