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Duterte ‘quarreling’ with Cabinet for budget cuts to free up funds to hire more soldiers, police; buy more guns, planes

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President Rodrigo Duterte revealed he was willing to cut the budget of some government agencies to free up billions of pesos needed to hire more soldiers and police and buy more planes and firearms to fight rising crime and terrorism.

“Kulang tayo ngayon and I’ve been quarrelling with everybody in the Cabinet na kunan ko ‘yung ano nila muna, in the meantime, kaltasan ko because I have to have the money,” said Duterte in a speech during an oath-taking ceremony of star-ranked police in Malacanang Wednesday.

“Given the equal war now, medyo kulang tayo sa armas. The weapons that really matter most in a rebellion or a criminal syndicate as serious as in Mindanao. We need them but we still have to have them. Pero hindi kailangan ‘yung mga tangke-tangke because — well breaching purposes but we have enough of that. It’s just a rebellion. It’s fundamentally a tao por tao ‘yan,” he said.

Duterte said he wanted to recruit 20,000 army troops and seven battalions (approcimately 5,600) of the Special Action Force (SAF) to fight the Islamic State-allied terrorist groups and rebels in the country. He planned to double the Air Force fleet from 12 to 24 to make it a “credible force.” “I need the fast boats and the powerful precision-guided missiles. That’s what I’ve been trying to get,” said Duterte.

He expected the country’s allies to chip in to his military ambitions. “I don’t know if Russia’s help is coming. Sinabi nila ibibigay naman nila. Nagpapasalamat rin tayo. And sa mga Chinese. And, of course, sa America. Given ‘yan eh, all these years ang tulong natin,” he said.

Duterte explained why the country needed to beef up its defense and security soon.

“Alam mo sabi nga nila noon marami tayong sundalo. Totoo ‘yan. In times of peace, wala tayong problema. Kung walang gulo, no deployment or nothing and there’s a big space for everybody to move. Noon ‘yun,” said Duterte.

“But with the coming of the ISIS, drugs coming in from anywhere and everywhere, pati itong terrorism, criminality, hirap tayo ngayon. It is not really a matter of numbers but the number of events that we have to counter to save the Republic,” he added.