Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte gave a green light order to the Armed Forces of the Philippines to recruit additional 10,000 soldiers to address the various threats in the country.

AFP Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that the planned recruitment has been approved year ago and last Friday during a command conference in Malacanang the President has renewed his directive to the AFP.

Lorenzana said “So ngayon pa lang ipapatupad ‘yun (Now we can implement it). It will take a time to train people, so maybe in the next 12 months we are hoping to recruit, equip, train. Siguro magagamit natin ‘yung bagong tropa siguro 2018 na (We will probably have new troops by 2018).

“Yung meron tayo ngayon, hindi sapat sa ating kasalukuyang requirements kaya kailangan talaga ng dagdag (Right now, we don’t have what’s sufficient to our current requirements, that’s why we really need to add),” Lorenzana said to the reporters.

He said the Armed Forces currently have an estimated 135,000 strong officers and men with about 80,000 of them in the Army so we need to recruit more soldiers and officers because of increasing security threats.

“Nadaragdagan ang mga threats to national security pero hindi nadadagdan ‘yung strength ng armed forces at capability (Threats to national security are increasing but the strength of the armed forces and its capability isn’t growing),” he said.

AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo – Image UNTV-NEWS

AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said that the request for additional troops had long been approved but it was renewed recently.

Arevalo said the Armed Forces requested the additional troops because the military’s current strength is not enough to address the “current requirements” in the operations.

“The bottom line is the number of threats to national security is growing but the strength of the Armed Forces, its capability, is not commensurately increased,” said Arevalo, without elaborating on the threats.

Terrorist groups for the past two decades are actively operating specifically in the southern part of Mindanao like the Abu Sayyaf, the Maute group, the Ansar Khalifah Philippines, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and other lawless groups. While the military has toned down its pursuit of the New People’s Army because of ongoing peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front. -JCE

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