MANILA -- President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Monday gave a boost to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as he lauded newly installed AFP chief Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vincent Bacarro as a “reliable partner” in transforming the Philippines into a safe and prosperous country.
“It is certain that we have chosen the right leader in General Bacarro to lead the AFP as it marches forward and undertakes a new journey that will eventually pave the way for a much improved and stronger AFP in the days ahead,” he said in a speech during the Change of Command ceremony held in Camp Aguinaldo.
“I am sure that we will all now know that we have a reliable partner in the AFP under the helm of General Bacarro as we commence the difficult undertaking of rebirth and restoration of the Republic, transforming the country into a haven that is safe, secure, peaceful, and prosperous for all present and future Filipinos to enjoy,” Marcos added.
The chief executive said Bacarro’s strong presence, impressive administrative and operational proficiency, unmatched discipline, and unwavering commitment “will come in useful for the work that you are facing ahead of you.”
In his speech, the President also called on military personnel to “get to work and be the best that we can be in our respective capacities as public servants united in purpose and in deed.”
“I know that you know well that the journey will not be an easy one. It will be sometimes treacherous, always complex. It will be difficult and, at times, seemingly unbearable. But with the AFP beside us, assisting and putting in place the fundamental prerequisites for nation-building, we shall overcome and emerge victorious in the end,” he added.
A graduate of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) “Maringal” Class of 1988, Bacarro held various command and staff positions.
He started as a platoon commander and became a company commander, administrative officer, intelligence officer, operations officer, civil-military operations officer, and secretary to the general staff.
He also became the administrative officer at the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff and Office of the Vice Chief of Staff of the AFP.
As an army lieutenant serving as commanding officer at the 6th CAA Company, 21st Battalion, 5th Infantry Division, Bacarro was initially deployed to Isabela at the height of a counter-insurgency campaign in Cagayan Valley that lasted until 1995.
“It was this tour of duty that earned him his Medal of Valor in December 1991, the highest award for military combat in the AFP,” Marcos said, noting that his acts of courage and gallantry were shown during a 10-hour encounter with 150 fully-armed New People’s Army insurgents who attacked the town of Maconacon, Isabela in February 1991.
“He was fearless in combat and at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. He took on the most formidable foes, faced them head on, and eventually emerged triumphant through sheer determination and courage,” he added.
Aside from receiving the Medal of Valor, Bacarro also received the Distinguished Service Star: one silver Cross Medal, two bronze Cross Medals, and two Silver Wing Medals; nine Combat Commander’s Kagitingan badges and 36 Military Merit Medals; the PMA Outstanding Alumnus Award in 1998; and Philippine Legion of Honor.
Centino, a source of nat’l pride
Meanwhile, Marcos also expressed gratitude to outgoing chief of staff General Andres Centino, whom he described as a “source of national pride.”
Marcos said Centino’s unwavering commitment to excellence and duty was duly recognized through the various awards and decorations that he has received throughout his professional career, including four Distinguished Service Stars, gold, silver and bronze Cross Medals, CSAFP commendation medal and ribbon, long service medal, numerous merit medals for combat and administration, and several certificates of commendation from both the military and civilian sectors of society.
Centino has also been awarded the prestigious Philippine Legion of Honor for his professional competence and firm resolve to maximize the AFP’s core competence, focusing on operational efficiency, internal security, delivery of basic services, and the optimal use of our resources.
“As a public servant who stood for meritocracy, professionalism, and accountability, he effectively managed the AFP by giving special credence and substance to competence, fair play, and justice in dealing with the ranks,” the President said.
Marcos hailed Centino as “a true patriot, a valiant soldier, an accomplished officer, a committed leader, and an exemplary public servant.” (PND)