MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - President Benigno S. Aquino III challenged today the new leadership of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to ensure the holding of orderly and credible midterm elections in May.
Aquino made the statement as he witnessed the change of command of the military from General Jessie Dellosa who will retire next week to Lieutenant General Emmanuel Bautista, the 44th AFP chief of staff.
"Protect the rights of the people by allowing them to freely choose their leaders," the President said in a speech at the takeover ceremony.
Aquino said the military under Bautista also needs to face another challenge, the shortage of military personnel.
He noted that from 1986 up to now, the number of soldiers was still the same even if the number of population has doubled.
There are around 120,000 soldiers in the country, while the population already ballooned to over 92 million.