Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vincent Bacarro officially assumed post as the 58th Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Monday, August 8, succeeding Gen. Andres Centino.
The joint Change of Command Ceremony and Testimonial Review was led by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.
In his assumption speech, Bacarro shared his six-pronged vision for the AFP which he dubbed as “U.N.I.T.Y.” – the central theme of Marcos’ administration.
Bacarro’s vision of U.N.I.T.Y. for the AFP stands for “Unparalleled professionalism,” “Noble utilization of resources,” “Invigorating capability development,” “Tenacity in sustaining gains, and “Yearning for service excellence.”
“Sir, I will not take this responsibility lightly. I am fully aware that the challenges that would beset me will be undaunting but your trust and confidence will remind me of your vision for this country,” Bacarro told Marcos.
“Every member of the AFP must want to serve our people and our country excellently, there is no room for mediocre service here,” he added.
The new AFP Chief’s vision of UNITY pertains to the preservation of the military’s high trust and approval ratings from the public, efficient and intelligent use of resources amid the Covid-19 pandemic, and the need to pursue the third horizon of the modernization program which will begin in 2023.
His vision also puts premium on the sustained commitment of the military to end the communist insurgency, terrorism, and other security campaigns as well as in assisting in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic.
“I will be the first one to say, I cannot do this alone. Each member of the organization has a vital role to play in achieving the vision and mission of the AFP to be a world class armed forces that is a source of national pride by 2028,” he added.
Bacarro particularly mentioned the importance of time as a “highly valuable commodity.”
“For me, time is a highly valuable commodity. Time that is wasted can never be reallocated neither can it be renewed. In a mission-oriented field such as the armed forces, time is always of the essence. Time wasted is opportunity lost. By putting a high premium on time we can effectively manage all our resources better,” he emphasized.
He also pointed out the need to continue forwarding the AFP’s self-reliant defense posture program which seeks to make the armed forces at par with other nations in the region.
“Through this, we shall be one of the many faces of national strength that our Commander in Chief has emphasized. Attaining this minimum credible defense posture will allow us to adopt more quicky and discover new techniques to help us deliver services that are geared towards attaining peace and protecting the sovereignty of our country,” he noted.
Bacarro is a recipient of the highly coveted Medal of Valor, the country’s highest military award for courage.
He was bestowed the award after leading the 6th CAFGU Active Auxilliary (CAA) Company of the 21st Infantry Battalion under the 5th Infantry Division when they figured in a fierce firefight with around 150 New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Maconacon, Isabela from Jan. 26 to 27, 1991. Although outnumbered, his unit valiantly fought against communist guerillas for 10 hours after the enemies attacked Maconacon. The troops were successful in defending the town despite the overwhelming number of armed insurgents and the lack of air and artillery fire support.
Bacarro is the first key officer in the military who was appointed after Republic Act No. 11709 took effect last July 1. The new law mandates, among others, a fixed tour of duty of three years for the AFP Chief of Staff and other officers holding key positions. This means he will serve until 2025 unless the Commander in Chief replaces him.
He was born on Sept. 18, 1966 in San Fernando, La Union and graduated on the upper quartile of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) “Maringal” Class of 1988.
‘No human rights violation‘
Meanwhile, Centino congratulated Bacarro for being appointed as his successor. Centino, who will retire in February 2023, is expected to be given a different post in the AFP General Headquarters.
He took pride in his nine-month long service as AFP Chief, having been appointed by former President Duterte in November 2021, and boasted that there was no record of human rights violation under his watch.
“Perhaps, one of the crowning achievements of the AFP under this soldier’s watch is the zero reported incident of human rights violations – a feat that we have kept going for a number of years now and serve as proof of the AFP’s adherence to human rights and International Humanitarian Law,” he said, drawing applause from the attendees.