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Rody wants Año to assume DILG post by June 2

Gen. Eduardo Año will be bowing out next month ahead of his mandatory retirement on Oct. 26. File

MANILA, Philippines - Respectfully denied.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana yesterday said President Duterte had denied his request to extend the service of Gen. Eduardo Año as Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief.

“I was trying to persuade the President to extend his service with the AFP, the last time was last night (Thursday) when I said ‘Mr. President, can we extend the stay of General Año with the AFP?’ but the President said ‘no, no, no,’” Lorenzana said.

Lorenzana confirmed the President wanted Año to immediately join the Cabinet as secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Año will be bowing out next month ahead of his mandatory retirement on Oct. 26.

Duterte wanted Año to assume the DILG post on June 2.

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Lorenzana said the President also tasked him to have the turnover of command in the AFP by June. Año’s replacement as AFP chief, however, has yet to be named.

Lorenzana congratulated the AFP leadership under Año and the American troops at the closing ceremonies of this year’s joint Balikatan exercises at Camp Aguinaldo.

US Ambassador Sung Kim also congratulated Año on his appointment as DILG secretary.

“Let me take this opportunity to give our warm congratulations to General Año on his recent nomination to head the DILG, a critically important Cabinet post. We will of course miss this tremendous leadership of the AFP but I think it speaks volumes that President Duterte has nominated someone of his caliber to head this very important department,” Kim said.

Kim said the US embassy is looking forward to the assumption of Año as DILG secretary.

During the closing ceremonies, Año spoke about the military’s success against the Abu Sayyaf extremists.

Año mentioned the timeline given to him by the President to wipe out the Abu Sayyaf.

“The timeline given to me does not mean that there will be no more Abu Sayyaf left, but to attain strategic victory. Whatever they will do now, we have already defeated them,” he said.

Año declared the military has broken the Abu Sayyaf’s will to fight, citing the mass surrender of the bandits in Basilan and Sulu.

Año said that once he assumes as DILG chief, it would be easy for his successor to finish off the bandit group.

“It’s already in the document and deliberately orchestrated. Whoever would be my replacement, it will be very easy for him to do the job as everything has been put into writing,” he said.

As DILG secretary, Año vowed the rule of law would be followed in all police operations, including the illegal drug campaign.

Año said he would focus his efforts on running after drug syndicates.

“We need to address the source of these illegal drugs. It’s the source that is important,” he said.

A seasoned intelligence officer, Año said the involvement of local officials would make it easier for him as DILG secretary to track down the source of illegal drugs.

“It’s like insurgency. We should address the root causes of the drug menace. What we need here is to go after the source of these illegal drugs,” he said.

Año said he wants a holistic approach on the government’s war on drugs.

He said the DILG will support the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in the lead role in the war against illegal drugs.

“It’s really a team effort. I don’t have the single formula or solution but I can help how we can find the best formula or recipe,” Año said.

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