PUERTO PRINCESA CITY-- President Rodrigo Duterte went out of his way Thursday afternoon to visit soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the Western Command (WESCOM) in Palawan, committing to provide them suitable housing and around 30,000 new Glock 30 .45 caliber pistols.
The commitments were made by President Duterte as he talked to the men and women of the WESCOM Thursday afternoon in their headquarters in Barangay San Miguel.
He particularly boosted the morale of Filipino soldiers stationed on different country-claimed islands in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), saying "they are doing great service" although they were not present to meet him personally.
President Duterte said he will personally make a visit to the WPS to plant the Philippine flag there on June 12, the day country celebrates its 119th Independence Day.
"We have to maintain our jurisdiction in the areas we claim," President Duterte said as he also stressed that the Philippines tries to be friends with other claimant countries in the disputed region.
He said he has ordered the AFP to occupy islands being claimed by the Philippines in the WPS and make its presence there strong to ensure the safety of Filipino fishermen and residents of Pag-asa Island.
Pag-asa Island is the seat of government of Kalayaan municipality, where there are over 200 residents.
In committing to provide them housing, President Duterte said what his administration will provide would be large enough to accommodate soldiers with over five family members.
This means not cramped living quarters, where they do not have enough spaces even for their appliances, and which do not have power and electricity.
He said this amidst the controversy of allowing members of the Kadamay group to occupy resettlement areas in Bulacan.
In the provision of new firearms, he said 30,000 units of Glock 30 handguns are due to be delivered Friday to the AFP.
Conferring a few seconds with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to confirm the initial delivery, he showed the short firearm and said it is "maintenance free" and only needs barrel cleaning.
There will also be Colt Lightweight Commander caliber .45 handguns for them to have a choice. But he did not detail when the firearms would be delivered to the AFP.
During his visit, the President was also asked about Palawan's Malampaya share, and said that if the court's decision favors the province, he will give its rightful share of around PhP72 billion.
Palawan, he said, would be the richest province in the Philippines, and he hopes it will also share its resources when the time comes.
The President, however, said he is not sure if the share will be given during his term.
President Duterte also asked the soldiers to support his campaign against illegal drugs, crime and even corruption.
Source: Philippines News Agency