Gazmin to leave DND ‘contented, pleased’
The Philippine Army on Friday bade its farewell to outgoing Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, who spent most of his public service career as an Army man.
“Sir Volts, thank you for the outstanding service which you have rendered to the flag for the last 48 years. You have not only shown us by your deeds how great it is to be able to dedicate one’s talents for the benefit of our country,” Army chief Gen. Eduardo Año said in his speech during the testimonial review at Fort Bonifacio.
“You also have a set benchmark in public service which all of us strive to fulfill in our own ways,” he said.
Gazmin, who will step down as defense chief on June 30, served as commanding general of the Philippine Army from July 1999 to October 2000.
In his speech, Año went back to Gazmin’s career and achievements that spanned almost five decades.
The outgoing defense chief, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1968, served his junior years as a custodian of the late Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. during his imprisonment at Fort Magsaysay in the early 1970s.
He later served in Mindanao for more than a decade, fighting secessionist groups.
In 1986, he served as the head of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) during the time of then President Corazon Aquino.
“It was a leadership role which Sir Volts would handle for the next six years with remarkable performance and strength of character,” Año said.
Gazmin is a known father figure in the future President Benigno Aquino III.
“On some occasions, the young future President Aquino III would join the PSG personnel on duty for a round of singing, target shooting, or other recreational activities which Sir Volts implemented to relieve the boredom of what seemed to be an eternal watch over the safety and security of the President and her family,” the Army chief said.
He also said Gazmin’s “exemplary leadership of the PSG during those tumultuous years earned him the lifelong gratitude of the Aquino family.”
Gazmin later served as defense attaché to the United States and then went back to the Philippines to command the 1003rd Brigade in Basilan, the Special Forces Regiment and the Special Operations Command.
Before he was the commanding general of the Army, he headed the Southern Luzon Command.
“During his stint as Army chief, Sir Volts was also able to make good on his promise to improve the welfare of the humble soldier. He implemented several initiatives that focused on leadership and training and doctrine development, proper force mix, equipment and systems modernization, and quality and well-motivated soldiers, which include their active involvement in the Army’s non-traditional roles,” Año said.
Gazmin, who will be replaced by incoming Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, said he was leaving the defense department “contented and pleased.”
“I am happy to say that through the strong support of President Aquino, we have gained significant progress in the implementation of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) capability upgrade and modernization program that effected the release of P60.14 billion pesos from July 2010 to April 2016 and extended to the Philippine Army its modest share from the implementation of the said program,” he said.
Some of the additional assets for the Army during the time of Mr. Aquino included armored personnel carriers, M4 rifles, field ambulances and mobility trucks.
“I depart from our defense department on June 30, 2016 contented and pleased that I am leaving behind my endeared institution, the Philippine Army, the immortal monument of the courage and patriotism in the defense of our citizenry and their treasured social and democratic ideals,” he said. RAM/rga