A DAY after the military’s new commander-in-chief was told by the President to identify what his agency would need, the Department of National Defense (DND) will meet with officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to come up a wish list.

New Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said he will meet with AFP chief of staff Lieutenant General Ricardo David this coming week, and possibly make the rounds of officers and soldiers.

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“Wala pa, kauupo pa lang niya kahapon, di pa kami nagkukumperensya (We have not had a chance to have a meeting yet. David just assumed his post Friday and we have not had a conference),” Gazmin said on government-run dzRB radio.

But he said he already has an idea of what the AFP will need, and may make the rounds of AFP personnel on the ground to “confirm” his thoughts.

“It is as confirmatory if I go around and talk to officers and the soldiers,” he added.

As to how many additional personnel will be needed for the AFP, he said he will meet the military’s top brass and “determine the number that will be proportionate to the population”.

Gazmin, who headed the Presidential Security Group during the watch of the late former President Corazon Aquino, the incumbent President’s mother, also reiterated that he will focus on putting the right men in the right jobs.

He also said he will meet with defense officials in coming weeks to take a closer look at the military’s modernization.

The meetings will look into the welfare of the soldiers and retirees and their families.

On Friday, President Aquino told the AFP to tell him what it needs and he will act on it.

“Tell us what you need and we will give it to you, as long as they are based on principles of professionalism and utilitarianism; as long as they will benefit the whole institution and not only the interests of a few,” Aquino said.

David, in a press conference after the turnover ceremony, said he wanted the government to pour in more funding for housing programs for soldiers.

He also said the Aquino administration should focus on improving medical facilities used to treat wounded soldiers, stressing the importance of ensuring a high survival rate of government forces during encounters.

On the other hand, Aquino expects professionalism and dedication from the Armed Forces. (JMR/Sunnex)