Duterte to strengthen armed forces for war

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 25) — The Armed Forces of the Philippines could soon have a high-altitude plane, drones and more skilled soldiers on their side, as President Rodrigo Duterte laid ambitious plans for national security.

"To decisively address insurgency and terrorism, we are working doubly hard towards [achieving] a stronger and more credible national defense system for the country. We continue to strengthen the defense capability of the AFP as a deterrence against terrorists, lawless elements, and other threats," he said during his second State of the Nation Address and the media briefing following his speech on Monday.

Duterte said he will strengthen the government force by adding thousands of soldiers. He added he wants to replace the soldiers and police who were killed during the ongoing crisis in Marawi. Defense Secretary said on Tuesday 107 troops have been killed by terrorists in the conflict-torn city.

"Government, as a counter-measure, would start to call for a mobilization. I want the Army added by about 20,000 fighting men. I have lost a considerable number of my soldiers in Marawi. Then I will add about another 10 to 15,000 soldiers. But I want them SAF (Special Action Force)," he said.

Duterte said the additional troops seeks to address the security threat of country, both inside and out.

"I would need about 35 to 40,000 to meet the future threats coming our way from within and outside the country," he said.

The number of troops in the service is at 172,000, a report said.

Aside from adding more soldiers on the ground, Duterte said he will also make sure they are provided with high-technology equipment to help them during war.

"It's a high-altitude plane, it can see the ground. So before sila mag-alis ng istasyon or anywhere, everywhere, they should study first the image from above… Merong inoffer 'yan sa akin dalawa. Tatanggapin ko na 'yan… I will buy drones, 'yung high altitude. Na kung mag

patrol ang Army or the police, they will have to spend time almost half the day studying the… what is below, by drones," he said.

He also urged the Congress to review existing procurement laws to ensure the swift delivery of equipment and medicines and hospital supplies for the soldiers.

Duterte said all these efforts to beef up the armed forces is to prepare them for war.

"I will prepare my Armed Forces on war footing. Kasi may giyera eh. Until the last terrorist is taken out, the war will continue," he said.

A "strong" Armed Forces is expected to be achieved after two years, he said.

"We must have a strong republic to withstand all threats and challenges. Today's reality demands, necessitates an Armed Forces that is strong… I said I will leave the Philippines with a very strong military," he said.

Duterte also pledged support for the kin of the soldiers killed or wounded in battle.

"For the family left behind by those who fell or are rendered totally disabled in the line of duty, we shall provide shelter, health care assistance, education, and employment. That is my way of telling our troops: never fear, do your duty. I stand behind you. So does this government and all its agencies," he said.