The twin changes on top of the country’s police force and military happened on the same day this week. On the side of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Lieutenant General Andres C. Centino became the 57th chief of staff, replacing General Jose Faustino Jr. who retired on Nov. 12, 2021.
The military, together with all its service branches and the police, is one of the forces that we rely on for our country’s peace and order. In a health pandemic as enduring as this one, peace and order may break down on the slightest hint of weakness in our military. Insurgents and rebels may use the pandemic as a convenient leverage to gain ground, but never did the military lose its sight in protecting our people at all cost and from various threats, and this also includes protecting our borders, especially our maritime assets.
Malacanang, in a statement from the presidential spokesperson, said that it is “confident that Centino will continue the initiatives of his predecessors to bring lasting peace and development in the country while securing the State and upgrading our defense capability.”
The AFP, through spokesperson Army Col. Ramon Zagala, also lauded the appointment of Centino, noting that the new chief has the “immense knowledge” and “experience” in leading troops on the ground and supporting peaceful efforts to protect the people against various threats.
“Centino’s integrity, management acumen, and genuine desire for peace and development make him a competent leader and will guide the AFP in fulfilling its mission while supporting national efforts to battle the current pandemic,” Zagala said.
Upon assuming the position, Centino now leads the 150,000-strong members of the AFP. “I enjoin everyone to maintain our momentum, sustain our gains, and remain victorious. Let us remember that the enemy is on the brink of irreversible defeat. Let us not forgo this opportunity,” Centino said.
A member of the Philippine Military Academy “Maringal” Class of 1988, Centino has an immense knowledge and experience in leading the troops on the ground as the former commanding general of the Philippine Army. He also served in various command and staff positions such as commander of the 26th Infantry Battalion, chief of staff of the 4th Infantry Division, commander of the 401st Infantry Brigade, among others. He has also undergone extensive local and international training in basic airborne course; infantry officer basic and advance courses; VIP security operations training; scout ranger course, where he graduated at the top of his class; counter intelligence operations course, and more.
Likewise, he finished his command and general staff course at the AFP Command and General Staff College, and is also a holder of a master’s degree in management from the University of the Philippines and a master of science degree in national resource strategy from the National Defense University in Washington DC.
These formidable accomplishments – together with his hands-on and on-the-ground experiences – would surely serve well as Centino navigates the military’s role in the new normal, which sees warfare not only in the physical world but also on the digital realm.
Whatever the new world may bring as we move toward a post-pandemic life, may discipline, hard work, and perseverance espoused in the life of Centino become guiding pillars for a competent and professional military. We support Centino and we wish him all the best as he starts his leadership journey.