Sustain war on terrorism and insurgency, Duterte tells military

Published September 24, 2019, 7:48 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Genalyn Kabiling

President Duterte has ordered the military, led by new Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Noel Clement to sustain the fight against terrorism and insurgency.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his speech during the 28th Bureau of Fire Protection Founding Anniversary and 118 Years of Fire Service at the Philippine International Convention Center on August 1, 2019. (REY BANIQUET / PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

The President also promised to continue to support the military and upgrade their defense capabilities even though he was a no-show during the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) change of command ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City Tuesday.

Duterte was unable to attend the AFP turnover rites but his speech was read by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. The Palace had earlier said Duterte opted to rest after enduring a “punishing schedule” in the past few days.

“I now enjoin the troops to continue the fight against the threats of terrorism and insurgency under the leadership of the new Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Noel Clement,” the President said.

“As your Commander-in-Chief, I assure you that the Philippine government will continue to support you as we upgrade your capabilities and pursue initiatives in securing the safety of every Filipino,” he added.

He assured that the entire nation was behind the military “as you bravely march toward the battlefield to advance the common good and secure genuine and lasting change for our motherland.”

Clement formally assumed his post as the new military chief during the AFP ceremony. The former head of the Cebu-based Central Command takes the place of Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr. who will reach the mandatory retirement age of 56 on September 28.

The President, meantime, commended Madrigal for the military’s achievements under his watch, citing his dedication in strengthening the military and securing our nation.

“General Madrigal, I congratulate you for completing your remarkable tour of duty as Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. You have made a mark in this noble institution by initiating and pursuing organizational reforms to strengthen its operational effectiveness,” he said.

“We thank you for your steadfast leadership and for ensuring that the AFP remains to be a reliable player in our whole-of-nation approach to achieving security and development in the country,” he added.

He said Madrigal’s untiring commitment has led to many reforms such as the increase in the AFP’s authorized troop strength and the activation of the 4th Marine Brigade to improve command control over forces in Jolo.

The country’s internal security operations have continued to improve under the watch of Madrigal as well, according to the President. “Thousands of local and communist terrorist group members have been neutralized, apprehended, or surrendered, making our communities safer,” he said.

He also cited the troops for being at the forefront of humanitarian aid and disaster response, particularly in the aftermath of the earthquake in Batanes and the capsizing of a motorized banca in Guimaras, among others.

“You have likewise conducted hundreds of surface and air patrols in our seaboards and deployed AFP personnel to the Kalayaan Island Group, thus bolstering our territorial defense,” Duterte said.