President Rodrigo Roa Duterte called on the members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to fend off various security threats and vowed to upgrade their capabilities as the new chief of staff assumed office Tuesday.
“I now enjoin the troops to continue the fight against the threats of terrorism and insurgency under the leadership of the new Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Noel Clement,” President Duterte said in a message delivered by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana during the AFP change of command ceremony held at Camp Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo.
“As your Commander-in-Chief, I assure you that the Philippine government will continue to support you as we upgrade your capabilities and pursue initiatives in securing the safety of every Filipino.”
The President also made an assurance that the entire nation is behind the AFP as its members march towards advancing the common good and secure lasting change in the country.
A member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) 1985 Sandiwa Class, Lt. Gen. Clement is the current commander of the Cebu-based AFP Central Command, a position he held since November last year.
Early in his career, Lt. Gen. Clement became a platoon leader and company commander in the 44th Infantry Battalion, 1st Infantry Division of the Philippine Army.
He later commanded the 56th Infantry Battalion, the 501st Infantry Brigade, the 602nd Infantry Brigade, the Joint Task Force Sulu, and the 10th Infantry Division.
The new AFP chief of staff also held major positions, becoming the chief of the AFP Management and Fiscal Office, Commandant of Cadets and head of Tactics Group at the PMA and Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations or J3.
A decorated officer, Lt. Gen. Clement was a recipient of four Distinguished Service Stars, one Outstanding Achievement Medal, three Bronze Cross Medals and two Meritorious Achievement Medals and other commendations.
Tuesday’s event also marked the retirement of outgoing AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr. with the President recognizing his achievements while at the helm of the AFP.
Also a member of PMA Sandiwa Class of 1985, General Madrigal capped over 38 years of military service.
In his message, the President said that under General Madrigal’s stewardship, the AFP carried out numerous reforms such as increasing the AFP’s authorized troop strength and activating the 4th Marine Brigade to improve command control over the Sulu forces.
“Our country’s internal security operations have continued to improve under your watch as well. Thousands of local and communist terrorist group members have been neutralized, apprehended or surrendered, making our communities safer,” the Chief Executive said.
“Our troops have also remained at the forefront of humanitarian assistance and disaster response, particularly in the aftermath of the earthquake in Batanes and the capsizing of a motorized banca in Guimaras, among others,” he added.
Aside from those achievements, the AFP also conducted hundreds of surface and air patrols in the country’s seaboards and deployed AFP personnel to the Kalayaan Island Group, bolstering the country’s territorial defense.
“General Madrigal, we thank you for your steadfast leadership and for ensuring that the AFP remains to be a reliable player in our whole-of-nation approach to achieving security and development in the country,” he said. PND