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Reinforce our troops

By: Robert B. Roque, Jr.

There is an apparent need to reinforce our troops battling the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)-inspired Maute group in Marawi and other security threats in other parts of the country.

Hence, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV filed a bill providing for an increase in the standing force of the the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) through the recruitment and special enlistment of what he calls provisional enlisted personnel (PEP).

Trillanes pointed out that at this time, a larger force from the military is needed to better handle the Mindanao crisis, among other security issues.

Under his proposed Senate Bill No. 1473, a new system for the recruitment of enlisted personnel called PEP would be established.

The senator who was once a soldier himself explained that an additional 20,000 PEP would be recruited and would only serve a tour of duty of five years. They would go through the same training and receive the same salary like the regular enlisted personnel (REP).

But after their tour of duty, those who would not be reenlisted as regulars would be allowed to undergo training and educational benefits. Apart from this, they would also be given hiring priority in the civil service especially in law enforcement or other related agencies.

The budgetary concerns that would support the current pension and retirement benefits of the military retirees, however, would remain a challenge.

To settle this, the senator proposed that membership in the Government Service insurance System (GSIS) would be mandatory for the PEP along with those who would be absorbed in the regular force. They would then fall under a new and separate pension system that would be managed by the GSIS.

The current retirees and active personnel of the military would still hold on to the old pension system and nothing would change.

Simply put, Trillanes said he wants the military to increase and strengthen its standing force while providing a long-term solution to the pension issue of the armed forces. But the bill’s main focus remains in how to cope with our country’s current security needs.

Since his former days with the AFP, Trillanes has always shown concern for our soldiers and the problems they encounter whether in the battlefield or in the barracks.

If his bill is meant for the betterment of the military and offers a solution to the current pension challenge, he can count on Firing Line and all its support.

Go for it!

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