New Armed Forces Chief Focuses on Ending Insurgency

Turnover rituals. President Marcos Jr., new AFP chief Lieutenant General Bartolome Vicente Bacarro (right) and outgoing AFP chief General Andres Centino salute the Philippine flag during the handover ceremony of command at Camp Aguinaldo. PHOTO BY RHOY COBILLA

The head of the armed forces, Lieutenant General Bartolome Bacarro, yesterday vowed to be aggressive in the campaign against the communist insurgency which his predecessors have vowed to end but have failed.

In a speech on his ascension to the senior military post, Bacarro said the military establishment will step up collaboration with various stakeholders to finally end the 53-year-old insurgency.

“We will be adamant in ending the insurgency that has plagued our people and fueled poverty in different sectors of our society,” Bacarro said.

Bacarro is a recipient of the Medal of Valor, the highest military award in combat, for his courage and bravery, among other things, during a fierce firefight with communist rebels in Maconacon, Isabela in February 1991.

“Over the years, we have seen the value of working together to heal our nation’s ills. AFP will continue to strengthen its partnerships with our peace actors. This was particularly effective in ending local communism and even the fight against the corona virus,” Bacarro said.

The army put the strength of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, at around 2,700 in June this year, down from a peak of more than 20,000 in the 1980s.

President Marcos Jr., who graced army change of command ceremonies at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, said he looked forward to stronger and improved armed forces under Bacarro.

“I am sure we will all know by now that we have a reliable partner in AFP under the leadership of General Bacarro as we begin the difficult enterprise of rebirth and restoration of the Republic, transforming the country into a safe, secure haven. , peaceful and prosperous for all present and future Filipinos,” Marcos said.

Bacarro said the military, under his watch, will continue to pursue members of terrorist groups who he says have “disrupted the normal and peaceful life of our Filipino compatriots in the affected areas.”

Bacarro took command of the armed forces from General Andres Centino who served as AFP chief for nine months. Centino, who is supposed to retire in February 2023, would be given a post under the Marcos government.

Bacarro unveiled a five-point orientation called UNITY: U for unparalleled professionalism, N for noble use of resources, I for invigorating capacity development, T for tenacity in sustaining gains, and Y for aspiration for success. excellence in service.

Under U push, Bacarro said the AFP would maintain its current level of discipline and strict adherence to the rule of law which he said has earned the respect of the Filipino people based on the results of a recent investigation. .

“Let us strive to maintain, if not exceed, our ability to be more effective and credible defenders of our country,” Bacarro said.

He said the N push calls for “the wise use of our resources”. He noted that government resources are “stretched to the limit” due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The challenge for us is to reach our goal and successfully accomplish our missions with what has been allocated to us,” Bacarro said.

“The judicious use of our resources will allow us to remain mission-focused. This elevates a simple matter of economy to the level of honor, honesty and righteousness. In other words, the noble use of our resources,” he said.

Under “I” or capacity building, Bacarro said the army will ensure that equipment acquired for the modernization of the armed forces is delivered on time.

“And in the same way, we will endeavor to continue to push forward the self-sustaining defense posture program to bring the armed forces up to par with the nations of our region,” Bacarro said.

He said achieving a minimum defense posture will allow AFP “to more quickly adopt and discover new techniques to help us deliver peace-oriented services and the protection of our country’s sovereignty.”

Under “T”, Bacarro said the military would maintain the tenacity of military gains to deal with external and internal threats.

“Over the past decades, we have made great strides in combating the various external and internal threats to our people and our country. We must not waste these gains. Rather, we should tenaciously preserve and sustain these gains,” he said.

Bacarro thanked the president for giving him the opportunity to lead the armed forces and assured him and the Filipinos that he “will do his best” as head of AFP.

He also asked for help from all the soldiers. He says he counts on the individual and collective contribution of AFP members “to make a difference in the armed forces of the Philippines and in the lives of our compatriots”.

“Together, let us have a firm resolve to remain as one AFP, faithful to our constitutional duty to protect the people and the state. Together, we can make a difference,” Bacarro said.

Marcos, at Turnover, recognized Bacarro’s accomplishments and described the general as the “good boss” for the job and a fearless leader.

He also recognized Centino for his exemplary service and leadership. He said Centino represented meritocracy, professionalism and responsibility and to give substance to competence, fair play and justice in dealing with the ranks.

“He is a true patriot, a valiant soldier, an accomplished officer, a committed leader, an exemplary public servant. To General Centino, much respect and admiration for all you have done. Thank you for your great service,” Marcos said. – With Jocelyne Montemayor