In an apparent show of solidarity, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. chaired Thursday, Jan. 12, the first ever command conference of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) this year following a week of controversies and change in leadership in the two organizations.
Held at the AFP General Headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, the command conference was co-chaired by AFP Chief of Staff, Gen. Andres Centino. It was the biggest command conference of the AFP in five years as it was attended by around 186 service commanders from the Philippine Army (PA), Philippine Navy (PN), and Philippine Air Force (PAF) as well as area commanders from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
In a press briefing, Galvez said that he was “happy to be back” in Camp Aguinaldo as the DND chief and thanked President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. “for his trust and confidence.
Galvez replaced Jose Faustino Jr. who resigned after serving as the officer in charge of the DND.
“I commit myself to be loyal to the mandate of the AFP and DND in securing the state and protecting our people, and also protecting this administration. We would like to announce that the AFP and DND are together to ensure the success of the Marcos administration,” said Galvez, who is a former AFP Chief under the previous Duterte administration.
Galvez revealed that among his priorities as DND Secretary are supporting the modernization program of the AFP to address the "growing and significant challenges to the country's territorial integrity and sovereignty;" and "attain total victory" against communist insurgency by dismantling all communist guerrilla fronts and neutralizing threat groups.
Meanwhile, Centino said that he laid down his command guidance to the commanders during the conference.
“We made this to jumpstart what the DND and Armed Forces will be doing in the coming year,” he said, noting that the focus of the military will be ending the communist insurgency.
Centino also said that his re-appointment as the AFP Chief came as a surprise as he was already preparing for retirement.
Centino relinquished command of the AFP on Aug. 8, 2022 when he was replaced by then Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro as AFP Chief on the orders of Marcos. He went on a floating status for five months prior to his assumption last Jan. 7 since he is supposed to retire on Feb. 4.
“I was still on the active service although I did not have any position, I was just here in Metro Manila near the camp. I have to make myself available,” he explained.
“It really has to be the decision of the President to appoint or terminate the designation of the Chief of Staff. As soldiers, we just have to abide,” he added. “When I was reappointed, I just have to accept the order.”