DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 17 June) — The Commander in Chief on Saturday reiterated an earlier vow to put a P50-billion trust fund for the education of children of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) personnel, whether the soldiers are dead or alive.
“I am filled with nice feeling. I love you all. Mahal ko kayong lahat. Nasasaktan ako pag may nadisgrasya sa inyo” (I love all of you. I get hurt when you’re hurt), President Rodrigo Duterte, commader in chief of the AFP told troops of the 401st Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division’s advance command post in Bancasi, Butuan City late Saturday afternoon.
Before going to Butuan, Duterte dropped by Cabdabaran City for the celebration of the 50th founding anniversary of Agusan del Norte. The celebration in Cabadbaran, hometown of Agusan del Norte Governor Angelica Rosedell Amante, was his first public appearance since evening of June 11.
As in previous talks with troops, he promised they would have the best in terms of weapons and facilities, that henceforth there would be no more second hand air assets, guns must be war-grade and hospital facilities upgraded.
He also assured them he would support them all the way, including their families.
The President said the soldiers bear the brunt of fighting and “kasama ninyo ako sa lahat ng bagay” (I am with you all the way).
“Ewan ko kung maniwala kayo sa akin pero di ko kayo pababayaan” (I don’t know if you will believe me but I will never leave you behind),” he said, adding whether they live or die, their children’s schooling is assured.
He said he is targeting 20 billion pesos as trust fund for the soldiers’ children but hopes the amount would reach P50 billion when he steps down as President in 2022.
“That will be enough to sustain the education of your children, whether you’re dead or you’re alive,” Duterte added. But he reminded them the children’s grades must meet the requirements.
He cited actuarial studies indicating that by the time the soldiers retire, their children are still in college.
Duterte explained the trust fund will take care of the educational needs of their children who need not wait for their father’s retirement or death benefits to be able to finish college.
He also said he wants soldiers’ wives to engage in small businesses whose start-up government, through the Department of Trade and Industry, will fund. But they will have to attend seminars and be trained on how to put the money to good use, he said. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)