MANILA – This year when the pandemic upended everyone’s lives, the leadership of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has cited several achievements, including clipping the firepower and support of terrorist groups and acquiring big-ticket military equipment.
In his speech at the AFP’s 85th founding anniversary Monday night, AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Gilbert Gapay said the military has “significantly degraded” the armed capabilities of the Communist Party of the Philippines’ armed wing, the New People’s Army, and other local terror groups such as the Abu Sayyaf Group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and Dawlah Islamiya-affiliated groups.
“Their manpower, firepower and mass-based support are on the decline. They are experiencing leadership vacuum and their recruitment and extortion activities were neglected as well,” Gapay said.
He said this could be seen as “light at the end of the tunnel” as he expressed confidence that internal armed conflicts would soon be put to rest before the end of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term in 2022.
He also cited the acquisition of several modern military equipment as part of the modernization efforts this year.
“I am proud to report that with these equipment, we have once again established effective pressure on WPS (West Philippine Sea) in asserting our sovereignty,” he added.
Some of the military equipment acquired include the Philippine Navy’s first missile-capable frigate BRP Jose Rizal and fast attack craft, the FA 50 jets, Super Tucano ground attack aircraft, and the S-70i ‘Black Hawk’ combat utility helicopters for the Philippine Air Force.
Expected to be delivered soon for the Philippine Army are light tanks, self-propelled artillery and modern riverine equipment.
Gapay said the AFP is ready to protect the people and secure the sovereignty of the state, adding the military stand firms in addressing the various challenges facing the country.
Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, in a statement Tuesday, said the challenges have made the AFP and its personnel a “model of modern heroism” which has inspired Filipinos and “gained their trust and confidence”.
“This fierce commitment of our brave soldiers to guard our country against all internal and external threats, even at the risk of their personal safety, has made the AFP a model of modern heroism, which has inspired the Filipino people and gained their trust and confidence,” he said.
He also urged the AFP personnel to “always be courageous and righteous” in the performance of their duties.
“We have all sworn to be loyal to our country and people. May we always remember this especially when cowardice, greed and ambition tempt us to take shortcuts or become oblivious to wrongdoings that would divert us from pursuing our sacred mandate,” Lorenzana said. (PNA)