SONA 2018 Promise Tracker: Armed Forces

Find out how Duterte fared in other sectors

Halfway into his term, President Rodrigo Duterte’s relationship with the military remains strong as ever, with the commander-in-chief promising to take responsibility for consequences in the execution of their missions such as that on the war on drugs and insurgency.

“Huwag kayong mag-alala. Sasamahan ko kayo (Do not worry. I will join you). I will...if you go down, I go down. But for this martial law and the consequences of martial law and the ramifications of martial law, I and I alone would be responsible, trabaho lang kayo (just work). Ako ng bahala (I will handle this),” he said in front of the 2nd mechanized infantry brigade in Lanao Del Norte during the Marawi Siege in 2017. He even said in jest that he would “take all the responsibility” if the soldiers commit rape.

In June, President Duterte approved the P300-billion budget of the five-year second horizon of the AFP Modernization Program.

Duterte’s trust and confidence in the military was again exemplified with the recent appointment of retired General Ricardo Morales as president and chief executive officer of the corruption-tainted Philippine Health Insurance (Philhealth) Corporation. In October 2018, the president appointed retired Lt. Gen. Rolando Bautista as social welfare and development secretary, the third former soldier in the Duterte Cabinet after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu.

In various speeches, Duterte said he is ready to relinquish the presidency if the military does not want him anymore. However, on July 2, 2019, he pleaded with the military and the police not to “do it, please, during my term,” apparently referring to the staging of a coup d’etat.

In August, Duterte ordered the relief of and institution of court martial proceedings against Brigadier General Edwin Leo Torrelavega, and AFP Medical Center (V. Luna Hospital) Colonel Antonio Punzalan, former commanders of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Health Service Command, for the alleged multi-million-peso anomalous procurement of medicines and medical equipment.

As the Duterte administration moves past the midpoint of its term, here is how it fared in serving the armed forces.

PROMISE: Provide assistance to the police and the military


“In recognition of their valor, we have crafted a program to provide them comprehensive social assistance, including financial, should they meet harm in the performance of their duty. 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.” (SONA 2017)

Fulfilled

Duterte was able to fulfill his promise to provide social assistance to the police and the military as early as 2017, but recent reports have found questionable the implementation of some projects. (See SONA PROMISE TRACKER: Armed Forces)

In its annual audit of the National Housing Authority, the Commission on Audit reported that the housing projects intended for low-ranking members of the AFP and the PNP were maldistributed. It said that 3,965 housing units ended up in the hands of 2,253 high-ranking officers, including a major general receiving one unit worth P175,000.

Low-ranking officers are those with ranks of police officers 1 to 3 under the Philippine National Police and private/private first class, corporal/sergeant, and staff sergeant/technical sergeant under the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The maldistribution, according to the COA, “reduced the number of units available to the intended beneficiaries.”

A separate COA report noted that the General Headquarters-Armed Forces of the Philippines lacked clear guidelines on the distribution of benefits to wounded and killed-in-action soldiers during the Marawi Siege in 2017, which resulted in the maldistribution of funds. COA said 949 beneficiaries received financial assistance from the AFP, with one receiving P90,000 and 23 personnel receiving only P2,000 each.

The Philippine Army was also questioned by state auditors for its failure to distribute financial assistance to 1,465 personnel wounded in action (WIA) during the Marawi Siege in 2017. COA said P47,643,153 worth of cash donations under the Marawi Fund were not distributed to intended beneficiaries in 2018. The army, however, overpaid 118 beneficiaries of personnel killed in action by P9,980,000.

The government continues to give assistance to the military and the police. In July, it extended P250,000 financial assistance and other benefits through the Comprehensive Social Benefits Program to dependents of soldiers killed in action in the June 28 bombing incident in Sulu.

Other agencies also help in providing assistance to the men in uniform: the NHA for housing; the Department of Social Welfare and Development for cash assistance; and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Commission on Higher Education, National Police Commission, and the AFP for scholarship grants.

PROMISE: Rehabilitate military hospitals


“July nagpunta na ako sa Davao–sa AFP Medical Center… then I saw the building and I went inside, iyong drainage nila bumabalik. So I said...you know I’m really surprised. You know, military men, why would you allow that kind of thing? The dirt is going back to the… how do you expect the sailors to—the soldiers to get well? Tapos that’s the only building, the oldest. I said okay you rehabilitate it, I’ll give you a new one, in the meantime.” (SONA 2017)

In progress

The new Presidential Security Group Station Hospital, one of his promised military hospital projects, has started construction in May this year. The construction will be funded by Melco Resorts (Philippines) Foundation and is expected to be finished by 2020.

Other military hospitals and treatment facilities are also provided assistance by private organizations. The BGen Benito N. Ebuen Air Base Hospital, Camp General Artemio Ricarte Station Hospital, and Cavite Naval Hospital have been recently renovated through the help of SM Foundation.

The Veterans Memorial Medical Center has a new emergency ward inaugurated in December 2018. Its construction was funded by the national government, costing P65 million.

The AFP Medical Center has been calling for bidders to construct its various facilities, including two new outpatient department buildings, according to the Philippine International Trading Corporation. The Department of National Defense signed an agreement with PITC in August 2018 to help in the procurement for the department’s modernization program.

Aside from renovation and construction, military hospitals also received various assistance from both the government and private institutions.

In April, the AFP received multi-million-peso financial and medical assistance from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and the Mercury Drug Foundation, Inc. PCSO provided almost P86 million for eight select military treatment facilities, while Mercury Drug committed almost P20 million worth of medical supplies to soldiers, particularly the wounded ones. The Army Station Hospital in Camp Gen. Mateo Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal, received P1.5 million anti-dengue supplies on July 3, 2019, from the Department of Health-CALABARZON.

Sources

ABS-CBN News Online, AFP chief scrambles to fix ‘systemic corruption in military hospital, August 13, 2018

Official Gazette, Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte During His Hospital Visit to PO1 Nestor Villanueva, August 29, 2016

RTVMalacanang, 72nd Philippine Air Force (PAF) Anniversary (Speech) 7/2/2019, July 2, 2019

Philippine Navy, PH Navy celebrates 121st Anniversary; Commissions new air, amphibious assets, facilities, June 18, 2019

Presidential Communications Operations Office, President Duterte vows for continuous AFP modernization, July 2, 2019

RTVM, Talk to Men, May 26, 2017

Philippine News Agency, Phase 2 of AFP Modernization Program gets PRRD nod, June 20, 2018

GMA News Online, Duterte approves P300-B phase 2 of AFP modernization program, June 20, 2018

Inquirer.net, Duterte hopes successor will sustain AFP modernization, July 2, 2019

Philippine Navy, Philippine Navy’s first ever state-of-the-art frigate launched in South Korea, May 24, 2019

Philippine Navy, PH Navy celebrates 121st Anniversary; Commissions new air, amphibious assets, facilities, June 18, 2019

Department of Health, Press Statement of Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque on the DOJ-DOH Meeting, June 25, 2019

Rappler, Militarization of government? 'Correct!' says Duterte, November 1, 2018

GMA News Online, Militarization of government? Correct, says Duterte,November 1, 2018

Philstar.net, Duterte admits 'militarization of government', November 2, 2018

Inquirer.net, Duterte fires 20 military officials over corruption, August 13, 2018

Philstar, Duterte fires military hospital chief for corruption, August 14, 2018

Rappler, Duterte fires top AFP Medical Center officials, August 13, 2018

On military and police assistance

On rehabilitation of military hospitals


(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)

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