New AFP chief: We can’t let another Marawi happen again
MANILA, Philippines — Newly-installed Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr. has vowed not to let another Marawi siege happen under his watch, as he pledged to continue to sustain the military’s gains in attaining peace and development.
“We will also keep up the pace to diminish the existence of terrorist cells and other armed peace spoilers so we can protect our people and insulate our communities from their clout of fear through our preventing and countering violent extremism initiatives with the support of other concerned agencies and the Muslim community. We cannot let another Marawi-like threat to happen again,” he said in his assumption speech on Tuesday at Camp Aguinaldo.
The ISIS-linked Maute Group laid siege to Marawi City for five months in 2017, killing more than 1,000 people and leaving the city to ruins. It was the biggest urban war the government had faced in recent years.
Madrigal replaced Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., who retired from service as he reached the mandatory retirement age of 56.
The new AFP chief previously held the leadership of Eastern Mindanao Command, an area which covers Davao and Caraga region, a hotbed of communist insurgents.
In the same speech, he emphasized the need for a stronger stakeholder engagement and community dialogues to keep the country peaceful.
“Today, peace-inclined armed groups are now working in tandem with government. Our relentless pursuit of terror cells identified with Dawlah Islamiya, Abu Sayyaf, and remnants of Maute Group have greatly reduced their terror threat, constricted their movements and disrupted their terroristic plans,” he said.
“To reach ‘complete victory’ and win the elusive peace, apart from our traditional competencies, our campaign needs a unified effort at various levels of government to attain strategic stakeholder convergence to address the mass base, united front, army and party building of the insurgents,” he added.
He also expressed to continue to sustain the gains in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao “by ensuring the successful implementation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law to usher in a new era of stability and progress in the area.”
Madrigal, the 51st AFP chief, is from the Philippine Military Academy “Sandiwa” Class of 1985. His past positions include: Chief of staff of Philippine Army; Secretary Army General Staff; commander of 701st Brigade; and commander of 4th Infantry Division.
He also topped some of the military courses he took, namely: AFP General Staff Course, Infantry Officer Advance Course, and Special Security and Intelligence Course.
He is set to retire in September 2019. /muf
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.