Incoming AFP chief to use whole-nation approach vs. rebels

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MANILA — Incoming Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief-of-Staff, Lt. Gen. Noel Clement, on Friday vowed to use the whole-of-nation approach so that the security threats posed by the communist insurgency can be defeated once and for all.

“I think the most critical factor now is how to bring in everybody on board against this fight because it is not possible if the Armed Forces (of the Philippines) does it alone or if the local government units are the ones battling this problem. It has to be the whole country, the whole nation. This is a national problem so we have to address this as a people, collectively, so that our country would achieve lasting peace,” he told reporters when asked how he planned to expedite the defeat of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

Clement also vowed to create a bigger dent on the CPP-NPA’s ranks and its capability to create terror and atrocities with the whole-of-nation approach.

He said efforts against the threat of terrorism and the ongoing modernization of the AFP, especially in its territorial defense capabilities, would continue.

Clement, who is also incumbent head of the Cebu-based Central Command, expressed gratitude to President Rodrigo R. Duterte for being selected as the next AFP chief.

“I am honored with the designation and I am thankful to the President for giving me his trust and confidence,” he added.

Clement, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1985 and a batchmate of outgoing AFP Chief-of-Staff, Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr., who will formally retire from service next week.

Aside from being designated Central Command head, he also commanded the 10th Infantry Division, 602nd Infantry Brigade, and the 56th Infantry Battalion, among other military units.

In a statement, AFP spokesperson, Marine Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo welcomed Clement’s appointment.

“(Lieutenant General) Clement, the incumbent Commander of Central Command, has vast experience in command and leadership which prepared him to competently address contemporary challenges of ending local communist armed conflict; the local terrorist groups in Sulu, Basilan, and Central Mindanao; and the implementation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao,” Arevalo said.

“He is known to his superiors, peers, and subordinates as a team player, silent but hardworking, a visionary leader, and an advocate of professionalism among officers, enlisted personnel, and civilian human resource under his command,” he added.

Earlier, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Clement was selected by the Chief Executive as Madrigal’s replacement. (PNA)

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