New AFP chief vows intensified counterinsurgency operations

THE newly installed chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) prodded military commanders to intensify the government’s anti-insurgency operations as he reminded them of the Commander-in-Chief’s marching orders to dismantle the New People’s Army (NPA).

The call was issued by Lt. Gen. Andres C. Centino during his first command conference a day after assuming the top military commander post, noting that they only have up to May next year to accomplish President Duterte’s directive to end the insurgency.

According to Centino, the insurgents “are losing support, as we have brought back the trust and confidence of the people to the government.”

He explained that Executive Order 70 “primed us and the entire government system to finish this social ill once and for all.”

“Within the remaining seven months of our peace and security campaign, we have to further increase our tempo to make sure that we will accomplish the task given by the President.”

During the conference, Centino, who assumed the AFP top post on Friday, said the executive order, which mandates a ”multi-dimensional, whole-of-nation” approach to address communist insurgency, has “helped the military focus on its core function of protecting the people from the rebels.”

The chief of staff lauded military commanders for their battle victories and successful efforts against domestic threat groups, particularly against the NPA and other terrorist groups, highlighting the deaths of Daulah Islamiyah leader Salahuddin Hassan and Mindanao top rebel commander Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos.

Priority thrusts

DURING his meeting with the commanders, Centino also spelled the priority thrusts of his leadership, which are operational efficiency, optimal use of resources, advancing professionalism and meritocracy and capability development.

On operational efficiency, the chief of staff emphasized tri-service interoperability to achieve the desired operational tempo.

He gave importance to resource optimization in order for the military to accomplish more despite its limited resources as the AFP institute measures to protect and preserve the force amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to him, it is important to advance professionalism and meritocracy in order to sustain the “people’s satisfaction and high trust on the AFP.”

On the other hand, capability development is necessary in order for the military to be prepared to face the ever evolving security challenges, both in internal and external domains.

Centino and the commanders also discussed the role of the military in next year’s elections where it was tasked for law enforcement duties along with the Philippine National Police, reminding the soldiers again to remain apolitical.

He also directed a thorough review of existing policies that may have been rendered obsolete by the passage of time. His predecessor, retired General Jose Faustino Jr. had provided him with a compilation of existing AFP policies he deemed in need of amendments or revisions.

BCDA welcome

CENTINO’S appointment has been welcomed by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).

In a statement, BCDA Officer-in-Charge President and CEO Aristotle B. Batuhan offered his “sincerest welcome” to Centino.

“We are confident that with your years of experience, professionalism, and strong leadership, the AFP would be able to continue in magnificently performing its mandate of ensuring the safety of the Filipino people,” Batuhan was quoted in the statement as saying. “The BCDA vows to continue its strong cooperation with the AFP under the helm of Centino. “We look forward to working with you in realizing the modernization of our Armed Forces, further strengthening our troops and beefing up our national security.”

Centino is the 11th AFP chief appointed by President Duterte. He succeeded Gen. Jose C. Faustino Jr., who is retiring after his 3-month stint as AFP chief of staff. Prior to this, Centino was assigned as the commander of the Philippine Army in May this year.

Pursuant to Republic Act 7227, the BCDA is mandated to raise funds for the AFP Modernization Program and to convert former US military bases into alternative productive uses.

According to the BCDA, from May 1993 to December 2020, its contribution to the AFP reached P49.19 billion. Of this amount, P38.07 billion is earmarked for the AFP Modernization Program and P11.12 billion for the replication of military facilities, the BCDA added.


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