NEWLY installed Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Eduardo Año on Thursday promised President Rodrigo Duterte his loyalty and vowed to steer the military to new heights.
Año, the 48th AFP chief, said he was humbled to be chosen.
“I thank President Rodrigo Duterte, sir, and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana for the trust and confidence. I accept the challenge,” Año said in a speech.
Año replaced his classmate Gen. Ricardo Visaya, who will reach the mandatory retirement age of 56 on December 8. Both are members of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) “Matikas” Class 1983.
Año is the third member of his class to be appointed to the top military post. The first was former general Hernando Irriberi. Añother was Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Glorioso Miranda, also briefly designated acting military chief several weeks before the May 2016 polls.
“To President Duterte, you can count on my loyal service,” Año said in Filipino.
He vowed to establish a “credible defense posture” in the context of territorial defense.
Año assured the government that the AFP under his leadership would uphold the primacy of peace in connection with efforts to end the fighting with communist and Moro rebels.
He also vowed to focus law enforcement operations against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and other terrorist groups such as the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Maute group.
Año also promised to continue programs to modernize the Armed Forces.
Visaya also thanked Duterte for making him his first military chief.
In his speech, Visaya has expressed confidence that his successor would continue all the programs aimed to enhance the capability of the Armed Forces and the morale and welfare of the soldiers.
Miranda, who was named as acting military chief, will succeed Año as Army chief.
Año, a previous assistant chief of staff for intelligence of the entire Armed Forces was instrumental for the capture of top communist leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, Andrea Rosal and Ret. Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, who was accused of abducting student activists Karen Empe Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan.
Año was also implicated in the disappearance of activist Jonas Burgos in 2007, when he was chief of the Army’s intelligence service group.
The Palace said Año’s appointmnt came at an opportune time.
“The Philippines is now on the cusp of winning the peace as the Duterte administration is determined to pursue political negotiations with various rebel groups. As we secure lasting peace, we remain on guard to keep terrorism at bay,” said Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.
Before Visaya stepped down, he approved the designation of Col. Ma. Victoria Girao as the chief of the Army Judge Advocate Generals Office.
Her designation to her new position is effective November 28.
She is the second female officer to be designated Army Jago. The first was retired Brig. Gen. Marianne Aleido.
Girao replaces Col. Ukol Paglala who was earlier designated AFP-The Judge Advocate General.
Paglala is the first Muslim officer to be designated AFP-TJAG, a one-star or brigadier general position. He was also the first Muslin officer to lead the Army Jago.
The military chief also approved the termination of designation of Col. Santiago Enginco as Chief of Staff of the AFP Medical Center, a prime military hospital located at V. Luna in Quezon City, amid reports of silent protests by AFPMC personnel over allegations of corruption.
The hospital is currently led in an acting capacity by Brig. Gen. Mariano Mejia, who is also concurrent AFP Chief Surgeon.
Mejia replaced Brig. Gen. Joseph Acosta who was relieved last year by Visaya over allegations of irregularities.
The other designations are Col. Augustus de Villa, who is the new Chief Surgeon of the Air Force and Col. Noreta Sison, as the new Command Nurse and concurrent Chief Nurse of AFPMC.
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