PGMA leads Camp Aguinaldo rites installing new AFP chief

March 10, 2010 10:35 pm 

MANILA, March 10 — President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on Wednesday presided over the assumption of command by new Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief-of-Staff Lt. General Delfin N. Bangit, who she said, will ensure the continuity of the military’s role in keeping the nation strong.

The President, also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, stressed that Bangit “will always put the nation first in performing his duty to uphold the Constitution and protect our citizens.”

“Congratulations,” the President said to Bangit as the latter assumed the AFP command from Gen. Victor Ibrado, who relinquished his leadership as he reaches the mandatory age of retirement at the age of 56 today.

“With the appointment of General Bangit we are pleased to provide the continuity required to keep our nation stable and strong. As we have heard from the endorsement of General Ibrado, as we have heard from the remarks of General Bangit, General Bangit will always put the nation first in performing his duty to uphold the Constitution and protect our citizens,” the President said in her speech during the turnover ceremonies at Camp Aguinaldo.

The President conferred on Ibrado the Philippine Legion of Honor award after the military honors.

In her speech, the President cited Bangit’s 32 years of patriotic service and experience as a soldier, adding he will have the role of keeping the continuity to keep our nation strong.

In his farewell speech, General Ibrado thanked the President for her “resolute and caring leadership,” stressing that the President made the right choice in appointing Bangit.

For his part, Bangit sought to dispel criticisms about his being supposedly handpicked by the President for the top AFP post mainly on account of his being her former security chief.

He said that his career and promotions did not start when he became head of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) in Malacanang, but through struggles and sacrifices in the battlefield away from his family since he was a young lieutenant 32 years ago.

“My purpose as the Chief-of-Staff is to lead the Armed Forces of the Philippines to render professional and patriotic service worthy of the Filipino people’s respect. I am not the kind of commander who will lead our soldiers astray. I will not allow anybody to use me for partisan politics. Sa Diyos lang ako magpapagamit (I will serve as a servant of God),” Bangit said.

On his PSG posting, Bangit said: “Every single day, I had to make sure that our country has a President who is alive to serve you. I have done my duty well. But ever since I left the PSG, every time I got promoted, people think I was there either because I kowtowed, or because I will be used for something illegal. As you know even my assumption as Chief of Staff is not without those doubts.”

Bangit stressed that he will not taint his name and compromise his years of hard work and sacrifice and even betray the people “in this time when our country needs faithful service the most.”

Bangit emphasized that he admires the President who never gave illegal orders to him.

“The reason why I have so much respect for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is because after all these years, never have I receive illegal orders from her. I am sorry if that is not what you want to hear, but that is the truth,” Bangit said.

Bangit said the AFP will continue supporting the President’s modernization program and national development as the tool for attaining peace including the holding of a credible election which he has been advocating since he was in the Philippine Army.

Four days ago, Bangit said 11 soliders died in Oriental Mindoro in fight against the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels who wanted to extort permit to campaign fees in the area.

“They were our first casualties in our advocacy for a credible election. And I believe that our young and idealistic soldiers, our senior non-commissioned officers who are the backbone of the institution will never waste the sacrifice of our comrades. I am one with them in defending this institution from partisan politics. We will give honor to their sacrifices by protecting your votes as if they were our own. This is not lip service. We have concrete plans for this. If you want proof, join our crusade for credible elections. We need you more than ever,” Bangit said. (PNA)

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