AFP at 76: Commander is pleased

David Yu Santos
Despite a recent setback in Mindanao, the AFP says peace, security within reach.

MANILA, Philippines – The elaborate ceremonies for the celebration of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) 76th founding anniversary may have been trimmed down in deference to the calamity victims in Visayas and Mindanao, but the organization continued with its tradition of honoring its members, as well as highlighting its accomplishments for the past year.

In a speech delivered during the anniversary rites at Camp Aguinaldo on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011, President Benigno Aquino III highlighted the following accomplishments of the AFP (period of Jan-Nov 2011).

Here’s the AFP score card, as far as their commander in chief is concerned: 

  • Tactical engangements: 230 vs Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) rebels; 103 vs Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits (compared to 42 in the same period last year)

  • Arrests: 350 suspected NPA rebels; more than 100 suspected ASG bandits

  • Surrender: 230 “NPA rebels”

  • Arms confiscation: 260 (NPA), 49 (ASG)

  • 700 peace and development initiatives in CPP-NPA affected areas under the Internal Peace and Security Program (IPSP) “Bayanihan”; 230 villages “freed” from rebel influence

  • Reduced atrocities: more than 10% of NPA-initiated; 50% decrease in MILF-initiated

The President acknowledged that the death of soldiers in recent clashes against rebel groups in Mindanao was a challenge for the AFP to respond and operate against the suspects without “jeopardizing the peace process.”

“We reiterate our call for all-out-justice, instead of resorting to senseless violence which will lead to more loss of lives,” the President pointed out, as he also hinted that the AFP is getting more equipment next year, which will include a warship similar to Hamilton class cutter acquired from the US Coast Guard and has been renamed Barko ng Republika ng Pilipinas (BRP) Gregorio del Pilar.

AFP Chief Lt. Gen. Jessie Dellosa said that aside from their “key role in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” the military remains focused in its primary mission to defend the country from all forms of internal and external threats.

“What we have boldly undertaken and bravely embarked on last year is progressing well – clearly a sign that peace and security are just within our reach now,” Dellosa said.

The celebration of the AFP’s anniversary came just days after tropical storm “Sedong” killed more than 1,000 people in Mindanao and Visayas, particularly in the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan. According to Dellosa, the funds that were saved from holding a simplier celebration will be donated to help the calamity victims.

Honoring colleagues

Sans the pomp and pageantry of a traditional “Parade and Review,” the AFP continued with its practice of honoring their colleagues. A number of military men and some of its civilian force were given recognition for their exemplary contribution and valuable service to the organization.

The awardees include Brig. Gen. Nestor Anonuevo, Distinguished Service Star; Lt. Guy Ray Madrid, Gold Cross Medal; Corporal Abraham Parreno, Gold Cross Medal; Maj. Gen. Francisco Cruz, Jr., Philippine Legion of Honor in the Degree of Officer; Col. Oscar Lactao, Outstanding Achievement Medal; RADM Edgar Tamayo, Gawad sa Kaularan Award and Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Feria, AFP Enlisted Personnel of the Year. – Rappler.com