Newly-appointed AFP chief Año vows to turn military into more credible force

MANILA — Newly-appointed Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Eduardo Año on Wednesday vowed to focus on transforming the military into a strong, modern, and credible one.

“But to effect change, (it) must start within us, as your AFP chief, I will lead our transformation with fervor to realize our vision of a strong modern and credible Armed Forces as source of national pride of the Filipino people,” he noted.

Año took over from Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1983 classmate Gen. Ricardo Visaya who retired today after 37 years of military service.

In line with his focus to modernize the AFP, the newly-appointed military head said this is necessary as they are mandated to protect the Philippines’ sovereignty and integrity of our national territory,

“I am determined to lead the AFP in this endeavor by pushing forward the parallel and complementing modernization or our internal security and territorial defense capabilities, thereby establishing a credible defense posture,” he said.

“Unity is always determinant of organizational success thus we shall enhance the inter-operability of the major services towards effective and efficient joint operations, we shall breathe new life into research and development to a viable self reliance development program, supported by advanced military technologies from our allies and other countries,” Año said.

The new AFP chief added the military shall be the relentless force in ensuring that the Philippine flag “is the only flag waving and flying across our land, air and seas.”

“(While) we have been trained to fight, let us never forget as an organization that our fight will always be the fight for peace for every Filipino for the AFP is committed as it has always been to support the government’s initiative for a peaceful resolution to all ideologically based armed conflicts. But even as we uphold and respect the primacy of peace, make no mistake about it. We shall remain to be a lethal force capable of destroying any threat to our nation for we will not let our people cower in the face of lawlessness and terrorism,” he added.

In the same vein, Año said the AFP remains unwavering and unfaltering in its pursuit of neutralizing every element that desires to inflict fear and harm to innocent citizens.

“With the guidance of our commander in chief, I shall lead the AFP in the sustainment of focused military operations against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and other local and foreign terrorist groups like the Maute Group,” he added.

Año will be serving as AFP chief until he reached the mandatory retirement age of 56 on Oct. 26, 2017.

He served as Intelligence Service, Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) from 2012 to 2014 before becoming commander of the Compostela Valley-based 10th Infantry Division.

Año was also credited with the capture of Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) chair Benito Tiamzon and wife Wilma in Alonguisan, Cebu last March 22, 2014.

He was also responsible for the killing of rebel commander Leonardo Pitao alias Kumander Parago in June 28, 2015.

Año was named Philippine Army commander in July 15, 2015.

The new AFP chief is a recipient of two Distinguished Service Stars; a Gold Cross medal for gallantry in combat action; a Silver Cross Medal; 24 Bronze Cross medals for intelligence operations; 38 Military Merit Medals, three of which were with Spearhead Device for accomplishments in combat actions against armed enemies; nine Military Commendation Medals; a Silver Wing Medal, and other various awards and Command Plaques to include the most coveted Philippine Military Academy Cavalier Award in recognition as outstanding PMA Alumnus in the field of Army Operations in 1996. Priam Nepomuceno/