MANILA, Philippines – Newly appointed Armed Forces Chief Jessie D. Dellosa has declared an “all-out war against graft and corruption” during the formal change of command ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo Monday.
“An all-out war against graft and corruption and against few organizational misfits will free us from the seemingly never-ending corruption issue in the military,” Dellosa said in his response speech after assuming the AFP chief of staff post vacated by retiring General Eduardo Oban.
“This issue continuously ignores and mocks the fruitful efforts at reform the AFP has been carrying out for many years now,” Dellosa said.
“In [declaring all-out war on graft and corruption], we shall have the moral ascendancy worthy to be called soldiers of our people,” Dellosa added.
The declaration was part of his vision for the AFP on ongoing organizational reforms, which consists of the Philippine defense reform, fiscal and disbursement reforms and force restructuring.
Dellosa’s vision for the AFP was focused on four themes: territorial defense, the Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) or “Bayanihan”, disaster preparedness, and organizational reforms.
“The complexity of our national security today, requires your AFP [to have] greater preparedness and effective multi-disciplinary approaches to genuinely reach our goals,” Dellosa said.
He thanked President Benigno Aquino III and Congress for the full support they have shown in upgrading the capabilities of the AFP. Among the highlights of the capability upgrade was the purchase of the BRP Greogiro del Pilar for the Philippine Navy to assist in territorial defense.
“Due to the recent developments in the West Philippine Sea, it compels us to look into our maritime security deeply. Development of navy and air force bases and facilities to efficiently respond to untoward incidents is something we can no longer ignore,” Dellosa said.
About the IPSP, Dellosa said that it has been focused on addressing the root causes of insurgency and conflict. “Let us be reminded that in the arena where both Filipinos are in armed conflict with each other, nobody wins; we have everything to lose.”
“Conflict in Mindanao has been going on for over four decades, inflicting suffering and damaging the people living in combat zones. I think it’s time to give peace a genuine chance,” Dellosa said.
The IPSP “Bayanihan” is the AFP’s campaign, in cooperation with local government units and other government agencies, to bring basic services to the people in conflict areas so that they can become productive citizens instead of becoming insurgents.
Also part of the campaign is the peace talks with a number of armed groups in order to entice them to go back to peace.
In line with the thrust for peace, Dellosa said that the AFP “would still deploy and maintain a credible deterrent force in the area [in order to] demonstrate the institution’s readiness and willingness to use legitimate force against any actions of rouge or lawless elements that may inflame hostilities and disrupts [the] peace process.”
Regarding disaster preparedness, Dellosa was looking to review the AFP’s strategic reserve force program “to make our reservists the backbone of AFP first responders in the event of calamities and natural disasters.”
He recognized that the Philippines was prone to natural disasters and vulnerable to climate change and geo-hazards.
Dellosa said that soldiers risked their lives during the typhoons “Pedring” and “Quiel” in order to rescue people. “Our mandate is not only to protect the people from the lawless elements but also to help our LGU’s [Local Government Units] in protecting the lives and properties [of the people] in times of calamities and disasters,” he said.
Dellosa also called on the citizenry to give their “vigorous support and enthusiastic cooperation.”
“Stand by your soldiers, share some of the risk of standing firm against those who seek to destroy our democratic way of life, especially those who use armed violence,” Dellosa said.
“Peace and security is shared, not just among security forces and government institutions, but also with civil society and the communities. You, as ordinary citizens, are active contributors to the internal peace and security,” Dellosa said.
In his message to the soldiers, Dellosa said that they should always keep in mind that their fight for peace is a personal one because “most of our soldiers are sons and daughters of farmers, fishermen and workers,” and “they are the ones who are most affected by these conflicts,” Dellosa said.
“Failing our mission is not an option, and falling short of the public’s expectation is never acceptable,” Dellosa said. “The Filipino people expect much more from us,” he said.