AFP chief pledges sustained excellence in AFP’s 85th anniversary rites

The Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Gilbert Gapay vowed to sustain the military’s achievements the past year as the AFP capped its celebration for its 85th anniversary on Monday, December 21.

This as he looked back on the different accomplishments of the military beginning from the eruption of Taal Volcano in January to the successive typhoons that hit the country in October and November.

“These accomplishments of your Armed Forces speak of our commitment and dedication to serve and protect. The wars and battles in the AFP’s history have successfully honed each Filipino soldier with unwavering tenacity and resilience,” General Gapay said.

With the backdrop of an ongoing pandemic, the AFP Chief proudly lauded the perseverance and commitment of soldiers in defeating internal security threats including the communist terrorist group (CTG), the Abu Sayyaf Group, and other local terrorist groups.

“The AFP significantly degraded the armed capability of the CPP-NPA and the local terrorist groups, such as the Abu Sayyaf, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and the Dawlah Islamiah-affiliated terror groups. Their manpower, firepower, and mass base support are on the decline,” General Gapay said.

He added that these groups suffer from a leadership vacuum caused by subsequent losses of high value individuals and leaders, and that their extortion activities, and recruitment strategies were also negated.

“We could now see light at the end of the tunnel, and we’re confident that these internal armed conflicts will be permanently put to rest before the President’s term ends in 2022,” the AFP Chief added.

Developments in the AFP modernization program were also cited, including the acquisition of “big-ticket” items that greatly improved joint capabilities such as the BRP Jose Rizal, FA50 jets, Super Tucano ground attack aircraft, and six of the sixteen S-70i Black Hawk combat utility helicopters.

“Soon to be delivered to the Philippine Army are light tanks, self-propelled artillery pieces, and modern riverine equipment. With all these acquisitions, the AFP continues to build its momentum and is steadily moving forward towards the realization of our modernization goals and objectives,” General Gapay added.

“I am proud to report that with all these equipment, we have once again established effective presence in the West Philippine Sea in assertion of our sovereignty,” General Gapay said.

General Gapay also recognized the developments in addressing mental health issues of active and retired soldiers through the Comprehensive Mental Health Program “that will provide goal-directed resilience and psychological interventions for both active and retired soldiers.”

“However, we are aware that there is still so much to be done to enable us, your Armed Forces, to sustain the momentum of our operations and to realize our ultimate objective of attaining genuine peace and development for our nation and the Filipino people,” General Gapay said.

Meanwhile, the Undersecretary of National Defense Cardozo Luna led the awarding ceremony for soldiers and units of the AFP.

The Order of Lapu-Lapu (Order of Kamagi) are awarded to government officials and personnel who have shown exemplary service and invaluable contribution to the advancement of the administration’s objectives.

The recipients of this award were Colonel Ericson Rosana, Commander Gilbert Villareal Jr, and Sergeant Dandin Lastimosa.

The Battle Streamer Award is given to units involved and triumphed in battles against local and communist terrorist groups to recognize their collective sacrifices and accomplishments.

The recipients were the Joint Special Operations Units 1, 2, and 3; 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Scout Ranger Battalions; 1st, 10th, 15th, 44th, 49th, 51s, 55th, 65th, and 82nd Infantry Battalions; 6th Civil Military Operations Regiment; 1st, 2nd, and 4th Mechanized Battalions; and 1st, 3rd, and 4th Field Artillery Battalions.

Also receiving the award are Marine Battalion Landing Teams 5, 7, and 10; Marine Field Artillery Battalion; Marine Special Operations Group; 15th Strike Wing; 5th Fighter Wing; 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing; 250th Presidential Airlift Wing; 710th Special Operations Wing; and 220th Airlift Wing.

Earlier that day, a recognition ceremony was also held following the Flag-raising ceremony and anniversary mass. This cited the invaluable service and assistance rendered by select personnel and organizations to the AFP.

These were Staff Sergeant Jose Salvador Silva (Enlisted Personnel of the Year), Mr Engelbert Avena (Model Civilian Supervisor of the Year), Mr Ervin Yano (Model Civilian Human Resource of the Year), M/LCDR Xytorr Neil Lising (Male ROTC Cadet of the Year), and C/MAJ Judy Ann Canate (Female ROTC Cadet of the Year).

The organizations and individuals recognized and given the Kapayapaan Award were PMFTC Inc. for their Corporate Social Responsibility Program, “Project Embrace”; Mr Danny Rayos Del Sol, President of Mirasol Outreach Foundation, Inc.; Mr Alex Estrella Pantua, Chairman of Alliance of Pastors for Mission; and Operation Blessing Foundation Philippines, Inc.

“Despite challenges, we have stood our ground, and have never flinched. This year’s challenges have not been hindrances, rather, they gave us motivation to be more resolute in our efforts because our people needed us more than ever,” General Gapay said.

“Rest assured that we will continue to perform our mandated tasks of protecting the Filipino people and securing the state in order to ultimately realize the Filipinos’ vision of a secure, peaceful, vibrant, modern, and prosperous nation,” General Gapay closed. AFP.MIL.PH