MANILA, Philippines – On Wednesday, April 18, Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez Jr assumed his new role as Philippine military chief.
In his speech at turnover rites where he officially took over command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines from General Rey Leonardo Guerrero, Galvez vowed to support the peace process in Mindanao, and to ensure "transparency and good governance" in the AFP.
Here is his full speech:
As I assume command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, I call to mind the guidance of the Commander-in-Chief to be loyal to the Constitution. The Constitution mandates us to protect and defend the people and the state. In so doing, we as Filipino soldiers were caught in a bind of fighting fellow Filipinos.
War vs communist rebels and terrorists
The AFP has long been battling the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front) that has for decades brought misery and sowed enmity among our people. The same is true with the Abu Sayyaf and other bandit groups that have long held our communities in the clutches of terror.
Daesh influence on local terrorist groups tell us about the evil violent extremism could bring with the unparalleled death, destruction, and suffering of our people until the liberation of Marawi.
We have won many battles but we have yet to win the war. Violent extremists and their corrupted ideology remain a threat. Too many lives have been lost to terror and hate. The place was drenched in blood of innocent civilians – women, children, and the elderly. The siege of terror should not happen again – whether Marawi, or any part of our country.
It is time for rebuilding and reconciliation amongst Filipinos. It is the best time to walk the path of peace. I once again propose to you, brothers and sisters, that you consider returning to the folds of the law and avail [of] government’s offer to end all conflicts.
Thousands of your comrades have already abandoned your hopeless cause and surrendered their arms because they have seen for themselves that our government is just. Your Armed Forces invites you to abandon your pointless struggle and return to your families; to your homes; to your communities.
Warriors that we soldiers may be, we shall always prefer to take the path of peace.
We have been supportive of government’s peace initiatives. And we will continue that quest. We shall step up our collaboration and engagement with various government and non-government organizations to help address the root causes of the conflict. We will lay out and implement new programs in line with those of the national government to prevent the exploitation and recruitment of indigenous peoples, the youth, and other vulnerable sectors. We shall keep our door open to all endeavors that yearn to silence the guns.
Towards this end, I enjoin our Muslim brothers and sisters – true believers of Islam – to join the AFP in the fight against all forms of violent extremism. We will pursue with even more vigor our campaign to end insurgency and terrorism. And with your indispensable help, we will ultimately win.
Together, we shall render the CPP-NPA-NDF irrelevant; for insurgency thrives only where there is discord.
Together, we shall defeat the Abu Sayyaf and all other local terrorist groups; for terrorism flourishes only when people are divided and afraid.
Together, we shall drive Daesh and other violent extremists from our shores, for extremism dies in the light of a people united and strong.
As your Chief of Staff, I take this opportunity to reiterate our full support to [the] peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front. We look forward to the final, peaceful, and equitable resolution of the conflict in Mindanao. We will strengthen existing peace mechanisms and revitalize the Peace and Development Offices down to Unified Command level. We will do this to effectively address the grievances of the people of Mindanao and to set the conditions for a just and lasting peace.
But one thing I want to make clear to defiant enemies of the people and the state who may misread our intentions: while we give primacy to peace, we will never hesitate to use our might when innocent civilians are threatened and attacked. We shall not hesitate to conduct intense focused military operations to stop atrocities committed against civilians. We will frustrate terrorist acts that disrupt economic activities.
Photo by Richard Madelo/Presidential photo
Assist PNP in campaign vs illegal drugs
As an institution committed to support the Commander-in-Chief’s crusade of ridding the country of illegal drugs and organized crimes, I pledge the AFP’s assistance to the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.
Illegal drugs are anathema to any civilized society. Illegal drugs and dependence [on] it spawn criminals and narco-terrorists. We have seen in the siege of Marawi how terrorists used illegal drugs to fund their campaign of terror. As long as criminality and illegal drugs exist in our society, our people will never be safe and secured.
We will, as we should, collaborate with and support other government agencies. And together, as a team, we will fight and eliminate the menace.
Talk to men
Before I close, allow me to address my fellow protectors of the people and the state.
Today, the AFP enjoys the trust and confidence of the Filipino people. Our credibility as an institution is well established. We owe this to every soldier, airman, sailor, narine – active and reserve – and civilian employees who have given their all in the name of duty as protectors of the people and state. But we owe it to the Filipino nation to preserve that faith and meet their steep expectations.
Transparency and good governance shall be the beacon that shall guide our thoughts, our words, and our actions. We shall always adhere to our core values of honor, service, and patriotism. We shall promote prudent utilization of resources sans corruption. We shall uphold meritocracy; not mediocrity. We shall advance transparency; not mistrust.
We dream of becoming a world-class Armed Force.
We aspire to be a source of national pride.
We have come a long way towards the transformation of the Armed Forces into what it is today. However, much remains to be done for us to completely evolve into a 21st century military – fully capable of protecting the Filipino people, safeguarding Philippine sovereignty, and ensuring our territorial integrity.
Photo by Simeon Celi/Presidential photo
Message to the public
Sa kapwa naming Pilipino at Kababayan – dito sa bansa o sa ibayong dagat – na aming pinaglilingkuran: nais ko pong ipahayag, sa ngalan ng Kawal Pilipino, ang aming pasalamat sa inyong lubos na pagtitiwala at pagsuporta.
Hindi lamang po ninyo ipinadama ang inyong kalinga at malasakit sa inyong mga Kawal sa panahon ng digmaan sa Marawi. Ipinakita rin ninyo ito sa laban ng inyong mga kawal sa Sulu, sa Basilan, at saan mang bahagi ng lupa, ng dagat, o himpapawid na ating nasasakupan.
Hangad po namin na panatitilihin ang inyong pagtitiwala. Subali’t higit pa dyan,hiling po namin ang inyong pakikiisa sa aming mithiing makamtan ang pangmatagalang kapayapaan sa ating bayan.
Hangad din po namin lalo’t higit ang inyong mahalagang suporta sa aming giyera laban sa terorismo, ipinagbabawal na gamot, at kriminalidad. Hindi po namin ito mapagtatagumpayan kung hindi sa pamamagitan ninyo. Sapagka’t ito ay laban hindi lamang ng inyong mga kawal kundi ng bawa’t Pilipino.
Mabuhay ang Sandatahang Lakas ng Pilipinas. Mabuhay ang mamamayang Pilipino!