QUEZON CITY, Dec. 18 (PIA)-President Rodrigo R. Duterte assured members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) of his unqualified support as they fight to defeat terrorism, violent extremism and insurgency and address lingering emerging threats.
Duterte led the AFP during the celebration of its 84th founding anniversary in a ceremony held at the Lapu-Lapu Grandstand, Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City,Tuesday, December 17, 2019.
"Ang sundalo natin, sundalo ng bayan, utusan ng bayan, runner ng bayan. Kapag earthquake, baha, pumutok na volcano, may flooding, andun sila," Duterte said.
"We have to assure that the next generation will be free of these vagaries of life, especially itong droga," he said.
"That is why I declared war. War is war. Itong droga is worldwide, it is not limited to any country which borders. It is almost seamless at lahat nagdudusa," he added.
"Try to make this country as peaceful as it can ever be. Sa utos ko na yan na ubusin nyo sila, sabihin ko sa inyo, I will take responsibility," the President said.
"Kung sakali man we'll go to prison, you can enjoy your freedom. I will take the risk," the President added.
During the event, the President awarded the Order of Lapu-Lapu to 1Lt Deardito Layan of PH Air Force, an MD-520MG pilot who gave close air support to ground troops operating against local and foreign BIFF-Daesh forces under Abu Toraype and the Dawla Islamiya (ISIS) in Brgy Tee, Datu Salibo in Maguindanao.
The conduct of law enforcement operation resulted in the successful elimination of huge drug trade activities of known high-value target narco-politicians in Maguindanao w/o violating the Rules of Engagement nor committing any collateral damage.
For the past year, the AFP has sustained operational gains, particularly in its internal security campaign anchored on the government's Development Support and Security Plan (DSSP) "Kapayapaan". It has seen tremendous gains in its military, intelligence and civil-military operations that pushed the Communist Terrorists out of the communities where they were very comfortable before, constricting them in areas that are far-flung.
The bulk of the AFP's gains come from the trust and confidence of former New People's Army members and supporters who now have chosen to return to the fold of law and abandon the armed struggle.
"The communist terrorist group is in disarray due to continuous neutralization of its members, particularly the high ranking personalities. This is manifested by the minimal number of atrocities committed by the group, which are mostly unsuccessful harassments," AFP Chief of Staff General Noel Clement said.
The past year also marks a significant victory for the AFP against local terrorist groups, particularly the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). Notable of which were the successful rescue of the British couple Hyrons from the bandits in Sulu last November 25.
"We have contained the local terrorist groups in Western Mindanao. We have neutralized three suicide bombers that could have inflicted massive death, injury and destruction were if not for the vigilance of our soldiers," Clement added.
The AFP also noted significant improvements in the security situation and development of Mindanao due largely on the implementation of Martial Law in the region and on the general optimism on the Bangsamoro Organic Law. Nevertheless, efforts are continuously being exerted both militarily and through non-conventional interventions through the AFP's preventing and countering violent extremism (PCVE) programs.
"The year 2019 has been a fruitful and meaningful year for your Armed Forces. Rest assured that we will always be ready to adapt, change and transform as we come closer to realizing our vision to become a world-class armed forces, truly a source of national pride,"Clement said.
Also present in the ceremony were National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, other government officials, foreign dignitaries, and former leaders of the military. (AFP/PIA-NCR)