MANILA – As he officially assumed command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Monday, Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay urged all Filipinos to unite as one people and join the military as it battles terrorism and the coronavirus disease 2019 (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 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,” he said during his assumption speech.
Gapay, a member of Philippine Military Academy Class of 1986, replaced his classmate Gen. Felimon T. Santos Jr. as AFP chief after the latter reached the mandatory retirement age of 56. Santos took over the AFP last January replacing Gen. Noel Clement who stepped down also after reaching the mandatory retirement age.
Gapay was also the 61st Philippine Army commander prior to his appointment as AFP chief.
“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,” Gapay said.
He thanked the Filipinos for their continued trust with the AFP, saying this faith will further spur the growth of the AFP into an honorable, professional and a reliable institution.
“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,” Gapay said.
Newly-appointed AFP chief Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay (left) was joined by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (middle) and outgoing AFP chief Gen. Felimon T. Santos Jr.(right) during the turnover ceremonies held at the AFP Commissioned Officers’ Club, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City Monday (Aug. 3, 2020). (AFP PAO photo)
During his term as AFP chief, he 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.
He also said the AFP 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.
“Even with the Covid-19 pandemic, we will see to it that the implementation of Executive Order No. 70 and the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 will remain our top priority to place a definite end to terrorism. There will be no let up as we continue to be at the forefront confronting all these threats,” he added.
Gapay said he will continue to work for realization of the AFP Modernization Program and future force structure aside from strengthening the AFP’s cooperation with local and international partners.
“We envision peace and progress and it is attainable with the AFP supporting the national govt’s development programs such as the ‘Build, Build, Build’ initiatives and those that are geared towards socio-economic growth,” he said.
He said the AFP will remain unshaken as it carries out the task “by exemplifying our brand of honor, service and patriotism.”
“Whatever challenge that lies ahead be it territorial integrity, terrorism, the wrath of nature or even infectious diseases we shall not falter,” he added. (PNA)