President Duterte (center) gamely poses for “groufies” with soldiers during his second visit to Marawi on Friday. —MALACAÑANG PHOTO
President Rodrigo Duterte’s request for additional 20,000 troops in Mindanao is part of the “intensified security posture” in areas with “continuing security threats,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said on Sunday.
“The deployment of troops to Marawi and other points in Mindanao needs to be re-balanced to ensure maximum effectiveness,” Abella said in a statement.
On Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senator Sonny Angara confirmed that the President wanted additional troops following renewed threats from Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to attack at least three areas in Mindanao.
READ: Duterte discloses ‘serious’ new ISIS threats in meeting with lawmakers
“The President said he would like to upgrade Armed Forces in terms of capabilities and personnel and I think those reforms are necessary,” Angara told reporters in an interview.
Meanwhile, Drilon said that it was Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana who requested for “additional manpower” of “about 20,000 soldiers.”
According to Senator Panfilo Lacson, the Senate can help the government respond to terror threats through a legislation that would increase the troop ceiling of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
“In terms of legislation, we can help by probably fast-tracking legislation maybe in the budget to increase the troop ceiling. We’re talking here of something like 20,000 more troops for the AFP and around 10,000 for the PNP. Mga bata (Young officers),” Lacson told reporters on Wednesday.
READ: Senate to craft law for deployment of 20k soldiers, 10k cops in Mindanao
Duterte placed the entire southern island under martial rule on May 23, after ISIS-inspired Maute terrorist group attacked Marawi City. Following majority votes of lawmakers, martial law was later extended until December 31 this year. JE
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