New AFP chief’s thrust

“There is no room for mediocre service here.”

New Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro stressed this in his speech at the Armed Forces of the Philippines change of command ceremony on Aug. 8, 2022, formalizing his assumption of the top military post.

He likewise underscored the importance of time. “Time wasted is opportunity lost,” he said.
By emphasizing these, expect Bacarro to hit the ground running and the men in uniform of the AFP to render the highest form of service possible for the country.

Bacarro’s statement is a stern reminder to the military to perform exceptionally well at all times, especially that he is focused on ending the communist insurgency, something his predecessors failed to achieve.
“We will be unyielding in ending the insurgency that has plagued our people and fueled poverty in the various sectors of our society,” Bacarro said in his speech, highlighting one of his thrusts under his six-pronged vision for the AFP, dubbed “UNITY” – using President Marcos’ presidential campaign slogan as acronym.

He vowed that the pursuit of terrorist groups, which he said have “disrupted the normal and peaceful lives of our fellow Filipinos in affected areas,” will continue under his watch.

Bacarro’s vision of UNITY stands for “Unparalleled professionalism, Noble utilization of resources, Invigorating capability development, Tenacity in sustaining gains, and ‘Yearning for service excellence.” It 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, pursuing the third phase of the modernization program which will begin in 2023, putting premium on the sustained commitment of the military to end the communist insurgency, terrorism, and other security campaigns, and playing a key role in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic.

These are gargantuan tasks for the AFP – ending communist insurgency and terrorism, in particular. However, these are attainable with unequivocal support of the administration and the uncompromising commitment of the men in uniform. As Bacarro emphasized, there is no room for mediocre service in the AFP.

While the promise to end communist insurgency has been echoed administration after administration, the underground movement still thrives today. This only underscores the daunting task ahead for Bacarro and his men.

Under the Duterte administration, the Armed Forces claimed to have made inroads in the battle against insurgency.

“ far as the military is concerned, we have achieved significant gains in the conduct of military operations against the threat. I’m referring to the armed threat , almost 74 percent. There used to be 89 guerrilla fronts when President Duterte assumed office in 2016, but as of 30 June this year they were reduced to 23,”then AFP acting spokesman Col. Medel Aguilar said in a press briefing last month.

The military also placed the current NPA strength to around 2,700 as of June this year, from close to 30,000 in the 1980s.

With a fixed term of three years under the new law, Bacarro will have the luxury of time to fine-tune and implement his strategy against communist insurgency.

Will the AFP finally end the communist insurgency? Will Bacarro succeed where his predecessors failed? Only time will tell.

Meantime, we will closely watch how this pans out and hope that the campaign will be executed with due process of law in mind and will be bloodless, as well.