LT. GEN. Ricardo Visaya, newly-installed Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff, said change would be felt by the way the military conduct internal security and territorial defense operations and the manner it will assist law enforcement agencies in their fight against terrorism, drugs, and criminalities.
At the same time, while promising to be hard on terrorists and criminals, Visaya said the AFP will continue to embark on a people-centered approach as it involves various rebel factions in the new government’s aim towards nation building.
“We will support the expanded peace process with rebel groups and participate in consensus-building so we can already proceed forward in unity and harmony with our fellow Filipino citizens,” Visaya said in his acceptance speech during a change of command ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City on Friday.
“Our impact in far-flung communities and even in urban centers will be felt as we gear for peace as we shun hatred and fear, and as we slowly break down the barriers of animosity and bigotry that have gripped our nation for decades,” Visaya added.
A member of the Philippine Military Academy PMA Class of 1983, Visaya assumed the command of the 125,000-strong AFP, replacing Lt. Gen. Glorioso Miranda who was appointed acting AFP chief by former President Benigno Aquino 3rd following the retirement of Gen. Hernando Iriberri in April this year.
Visaya said the military will be unrelenting in focused military operations against terrorist groups like the Abu Sayyaf Group and all its allied terrorist cells.
“We will realign military resources to their identified bailiwicks and sanctuaries and apply our military strength to suppress them, hunt them down and finish them. We will continue to apply the full force of the law 24/7 to go after these criminals and profit-seeking elements who operate under the guise of religious fervor and holy war,” Visaya pointed out.
To realize this, he said the AFP will rethink its armament acquisition program to further beef up its capacity and capability to search and engage rouge and lawless elements.
“Over and above our role to run after the terrorists, we will also intensify our support to law enforcement agencies, particularly the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in their mission to eliminate widespread criminality and the wanton destruction of lives brought about by the spread and use of illegal drugs,” he said.
According to the AFP chief, the same advocacy will be implemented within the military ranks by continuously weeding out scalawags who use drugs and have links with illegal groups and activities.
“Then we will proceed to build alliances with our counterparts to bring down syndicates and other organized crime groups,” he added.
On the issue of territorial defense, Visaya said the military will abide by the political, legal and democratic processes to settle the issue and support national policy to strengthen the country’s position in the regional and global area.
“The AFP will rationalize our relationship with our allies in order to strengthen our military ties with them while at the same time prioritize the interest of our force and our nation,” he said.