The Philippine Star, Saturday, February 12, 2011
ZAMBOANGA CITY ,Philippines – President Aquino braved the rain to talk to Marines in an open court in Jolo, Sulu yesterday morning, in what was described as aiming to boost their morale amid allegations of corruption in the military.
Aquino, clad in a blue polo shirt and denim pants, commended the soldiers for their prompt response at the height of flash floods in the capital town of Jolo that killed six people and displaced thousands last week.
In the brief meeting at the headquarters of the 3rd Marine Brigade in Camp Teodulfo Bautista, Aquino lauded the soldiers for being pro-people, showing they were not just for combat operations.
Aquino announced an increase in the soldiers’ combat pay from P250 to P500 plus monthly and promised that military equipment such as aircraft and seacraft would be upgraded for their mobility.
He also vowed to provide the soldiers with personal combat equipment and free housing.
Earlier yesterday, Aquino, accompanied by Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo and Social Welfare and Development Secretary Dinky Soliman, was briefed by Jolo officials led by Mayor Hussin Amin on the extent of the damage wreaked by the flash floods.
Aquino later distributed relief goods to the displaced residents before meeting the Marines. He flew back to Zamboanga City on his way to Manila.