MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte wants to raise the retirement age of uniformed personnel to 75 from 56, saying the government would be shortchanged if security officials are allowed to leave the service early.
Duterte said the retirement age of 56 is “too early,” considering that Filipinos are spending so much for soldiers and policemen.
“Alam mo ’adre, sa totoo lang, lugi ang gobyerno sa inyo (You know buddy, the government is shortchanged). You retire at the age of 56, that’s too early,” the President said at the graduation of the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) “Maragtas” class of 2018 yesterday in Cavite.
“Do not be offended. Filipinos are spending much for you, yet you retire at the age of 56. Hindi ako makabawi (I cannot recover the expenses),” he added.
Duterte urged Vice President Leni Robredo, who was also present during the graduation ceremony, to support a measure raising the retirement age of the armed services.
“Perhaps in the next legislation, we will ask the Vice President to do her part… Retirement age is 75,” he added.
Duterte also cited the need to enlist more policemen to address the Philippines’ security requirements. He expressed hope that more Muslims would join the country’s security forces.
“I hope by the next batch or the next – the one coming up for this generation, I will have the money to give you to enlist more police officers,” he said.
“Not all the Moro of Mindanao are our enemies. So maybe next time there should be a percentage of the Moro people joining PMA (Philippine Military Academy) or the PNPA. We need them,” he said.
At the same event, Duterte advised PNPA graduates to be vigilant against the Sparrow unit or the assassins of the New People’s Army (NPA).
“Be on alert for the sparrows because they are very active. If you have guns, do not display it, and be sure to keep a low profile. And if you enter an unfamiliar place, keep a sub rosa (private) style of movement,” the President said.
“We are at war. Now, the NPA is really after your guns… Those fools are drooling for your guns,” he added.
Duterte reminded the incoming police officers to have presence of mind and to study the ways NPA members assassinate their victims.
“I am not condemning you to death, I am just saying keep a low profile, heighten your sense of awareness,” the President said.
Duterte also claimed that about 1,000 soldiers and policemen have died because of the campaign against illegal drugs in Mindanao.
He also urged the PNPA graduates to perform their duties in accordance with the law.
This was the third time Duterte and Robredo shared the same stage in less than a week.
“Vice President Maria Leonor ‘Leni’ Robredo, this is the third time that I have greeted you, my lady,” the President said. Robredo smiled, sparking cheers from the audience.
The country’s top officials attended the graduation rites at the Philippine Military Academy in Baguio City on Sunday and the 121st founding anniversary celebration of the Philippine Army in Taguig City on Tuesday.
Robredo said she had a chance to talk with the top 20 of the 106-strong Maragtas Class before the commencement exercises. One of the graduates, meanwhile, gifted Robredo with a portrait of herself.
Robredo shared on Twitter photos of the artwork by Cadet Fourth Class Don Carlo Labastida, who hails from Davao City. The painting featured the Vice President’s face and the seal of her office.
“Was gifted with this beautiful painting by the PNPA Council of Artists. In the pictures with me is the artist behind this masterpiece, Cadet 4CL Don Carlo Labastida of Davao City,” Robredo said.
Labastida is a self-taught painter who belongs to the PNPA Council of Artists, the Office of the Vice President said.
Yesterday’s rites took on a new meaning for one of the female graduates after her policeman boyfriend surprised her with a marriage proposal.
Inspector May Ann Bejuna, 25, was with her relatives on the parade grounds when her boyfriend of three years, Inspector Thomas Allabo, 26, of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (SAF), approached her with a bouquet of flowers.
Allabo, a member of the PNPA Lakandula Class of 2015, was accompanied by his classmates carrying heart-shaped balloons.