New AFP chief assumes command; urges Filipinos to unite vs terrorism and COVID-19

by Warren Ryan Revoltar

Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay assumed command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Monday, replacing Gen. Felimon T. Santos Jr. as AFP chief after the latter reached the mandatory retirement age of 56.

A member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1986 and the 61st Philippine Army commander prior to his appointment as AFP chief, Gapay in his speech, during a simple turnover of command ceremony, expressed his gratitude to President Rodrigo Duterte for entrusting him to lead the AFP, saying: “The AFP has never received such tremendous support as we have at this time under the administration of President Duterte. Your good faith in my leadership means a lot to me, Sir.”

More so, Gapay also urged all Filipinos to unite as one people and join the military as it battles terrorism and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo once said we cannot free ourselves unless we move forward united in a single desire. During that time, he was calling the support of our forefathers to cooperate and unite for our Independence. Today as I assume the 54th Chief-of-Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines, I am making a similar call on our fellow Filipinos to join us in our fight against terrorism, fear, deception, and the pandemic. Indeed, there is no better time but now to reecho Gen. Aguinaldo’s call for unity,” Gapay said.

“While this year we have seen our AFP respond to terrorism and the impacts of COVID-19, these threats continue to challenge the capabilities of our Armed Forces, impede the way of life and diminish our nation’s peace and security. Thankfully, the AFP’s efforts are greatly appreciated by the people given its 90 percent satisfaction rating among government agencies,” he added.

“As your new Chief-of-Staff of the Armed Forces, I will hit the ground running to sustain the momentum in winning the peace, stability, and development embodying a world-class Armed Forces that is a source of national pride,” added Gapay, who also vowed to continue the pursuit of operational effectiveness, organizational efficiency, personnel development for the military aside from looking after the well-being of its stakeholders.

The AFP, during his term, will continue to place top priority on the implementation of Executive Order No. 70 and the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 even as it continues to help the government in its ongoing efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, Gapay will also continue to work for the realization of the AFP Modernization Program and future force structure aside from strengthening the AFP’s cooperation with local and international partners.

Furthermore, the AFP, as per the new Gapay, will remain unshaken as it carries out the task “by exemplifying our brand of honor, service, and patriotism,” adding that: “Whatever challenge that lies ahead be its territorial integrity, terrorism, the wrath of nature or even infectious diseases we shall not falter.” (PNA)

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