Soldiers doing ‘kasambahay’ chores for some AFP officials – Tulfo

September 28, 2022 Camille P. Balagtas 342 views

EXPRESSING “disgust” at how some members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are being treated by their high-ranking officials who pull them out from the headquarters to make them perform different chores in their private houses, Senator Raffy Tulfo said this kind of treatment degrades our soldiers should stop, “once and for all.”

During the Senate budget hearing for the Department of National Defense (DND) on Tuesday, Tulfo reminded defense officials that soldiers were not trained to be gardeners, market shoppers, floor sweepers, and toilet cleaners of generals.

“Ang mga sundalo po natin ay trained. Nag-invest ang ating gobyerno sa kanila upang matuto sila kung paano humawak ng baril at kung paano dedepensahan ang ating bansa laban sa ating mga enemies. Hindi po sila ti-nrain para humawak ng walis at gawing ‘Boy’ ng mga heneral sa kanilang mga bahay,” he said.

Instead of hiring and paying for household help, Tulfo said he found out that generals were pulling out soldiers from their duties to make them do personal errands for them, which include cleaning their private homes and their toilets, as well as shopping for their needs.

Notably, Tulfo’s concern was also based on past complaints he received on his radio program from the wives of soldiers who claimed that their husbands were made to do the laundry and ironing of clothes of generals’ families in the latter’s private homes.

The senator from Isabela and Davao maintained that soldiers’ primary purpose was not to do household chores for high-ranking officials but rather to protect and defend the nation and the Filipinos.

He stressed that no matter how good the country’s military hardware equipment is, it is only as good as the people behind them and the people that operate them, which is why it is important to keep the morale of soldiers “high”.

In response, DND Secretary Jose Faustino, Jr. assured Tulfo that he will have the issue that he brought up thoroughly investigated.

Tulfo likewise lamented the soldiers’ meager subsistence allowance of P150 per day, which they stretch for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

“Ano pong mabibili ng 150 pesos a day ngayon? Three times a day po silang kakain. In fact, sa P150, hindi pa tayo makakabili ng disenteng hamburger niyan. Di po sapat yun. Taas-taasan naman po sana natin ang subsistence allowance nila,” he said.

During his rounds during the campaign period for the 2022 election, Tulfo shared that he witnessed how soldiers would only eat sardines, dried fish (tuyo), and sweet potato leaves (talbos ng kamote).

Tulfo likewise brought up the issue of the delayed release of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) Old Age Pension for veterans, which he said should be addressed immediately to ensure faster processing of their claims.

“Just imagine, noong sila ay malakas pa, ay inaalagaan at pinoprotektahan nila tayo. Ngayon na mahina na sila, para na silang basahan na nagmamakaawa sa PVAO office para mabigay kung anuman ang nararapat para sa kanila. Dapat tayo naman ang mag-alaga sa kanila,” he said.

Worse, Tulfo said there were cases wherein veterans’ pensions would only be released years after their death, in which case, the check from the bank would merely be returned to the sender.

To ensure that proper care is afforded to soldiers who are risking their lives for the country and the Filipinos, Tulfo also pushed for the modernization of the V. Luna General Hospital, which is tasked with providing medical care to military personnel.

He underscored the need to buy modern medical equipment to improve the medical care treatment for Filipino soldiers.

On other alarming concerns, Tulfo questioned AFP’s approval to install cell towers partially owned by a foreign entity within the country’s military camps, which poses serious national security threats.

It may be recalled that the Department of Information and Communications (DICT) earlier confirmed that the Philippines has weak defenses against cyber threats and attacks, adding that they were excluded from the committee that approved the installation of said cell towers.

While AFP, through Deputy Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Rommel Anthony Reyes, reasoned that cell towers were installed because of the co-location agreement, Tulfo maintained that such agreement still put the Philippines at a “disadvantage”.

As such, the senator urged AFP to review its current contract with telcos, and, if possible, have all cell towers within the country’s military camps removed. Reyes agreed to have the said contract reviewed.

Ultimately, Tulfo, whose father was a military man, said he fully supports and salutes all AFP personnel, especially soldiers who are fighting on the frontlines, for protecting the country against the enemies of the state.