Soldiers wear worn-out boots in combat to be able to fight with ease, not because they don't have anything better to wear.
Soldiers who are superstitious find old footwear lucky.
So said Brig. Gen. Domingo Tutaan Jr., spokesperson for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, after a picture of a Filipino soldier wearing worn-out boots in Zamboanga City was posted on the Internet.
"There was only one soldier who was photographed in that situation," Tutaan told reporters on the sidelines of Friday's Senate hearing on the proposed P121-billion budget for 2014 of the Department of National Defence.
The hearing, presided over by finance subcommittee chief Sen. Loren Legarda, ended with the defence budget getting endorsed for approval by the plenary.
Ease of movement
Tutaan said the soldiers had adequate support, but added that he himself would not wear new boots in combat if they tended to limit his movements.
"When I'm in a combat situation I wear something comfortable. I cannot wear brand-new boots or branded boots because when a fire fight [breaks out], I [won't be able to] move," Tutaan said.
Other soldiers, he said, continue to wear old boots, especially if the soldiers have gone through combat and survived.
"[T]here are those who are superstitious. A few of them say that the combat boots they wear are the ones they had on when they were ambushed. 'These boots saved me and so these are my lucky boots,'" Tutaan said.
"Even athletes have [t]heir lucky shoes," he added.
Tutaan said wearing worn-out boots in combat "doesn't mean the [troops] don't have support."
"The situation has taken this long not because [the MNLF rebels] have a lot of ammunition but because the AFP's response is calibrated. If the order was to wipe them out or pulverize them, then probably it would have taken just one or two days," Tutaan said.
"But the order was to protect the civilians…. Didn't we hear interviews wherein hostages said they were placed in front whenever a clash started?" Tutaan added.