Facebook image from the Philippine Army shows AFP Central Command chief Lt. Gen. Noel Clement addressing troops in this file photo. Clement will assume the post of AFP chief next week when Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr. retires from the service.
New AFP chief vows to sustain fight vs Reds
Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) - September 21, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte has appointed a veteran military officer, Lt. Gen. Noel Clement, as Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff, replacing Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr. who is retiring this month.

“We confirm that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has appointed Lt. Gen. Noel Clement as the incoming chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” presidential spokesman and chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo said yesterday.

Duterte, as commander-in-chief, has directed Clement to further intensify the fight against the communist insurgency during his term.

“One of the marching orders of the President is to continue the government’s goal to end the local communist armed conflict,” Panelo said.

Panelo noted that task “is not new to General Clement as he previously headed the AFP Central Command (CentCom), led the Philippine Army’s 10th Infantry Division (10th ID), and served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations of the AFP, among others.”

“The Palace is confident that with General Clement at the helm of the AFP, he will continue to uphold the high degree of professionalism, the dedication and the integrity our soldiers have displayed to flag and country,” Panelo added.

Clement, from “Sandiwa” Class of 1985 of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), has vowed to sustain the government’s efforts to end the communist insurgency.

He told reporters yesterday that the military, under his leadership, will continue focusing on the New People’s Army (NPA) with the help of more sectors of society.

“I think the critical factor now is how to bring in everybody onboard against this fight because it can’t just be our Armed Forces or local government units fighting this problem,” Clement explained in a mix of English and Filipino.

“It has to be the whole country, the whole nation. This is a national problem so we have to address this as a people, collectively, so that we may have peace in our country,” he added.

Clement will assume the post of AFP chief after Madrigal retires from the service next week.

He said the NPA problem will be addressed by engaging more sectors “so that more of us are fighting to quickly end the problem.”

Clement said the campaign against terrorism, territorial defense, and others are continuing programs that he will also focus on, including the AFP’s modernization.

Military spokesman Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said the AFP welcomes Duterte’s decision to select Clement as the 52nd chief of staff.

“He is a highly revered and seasoned commander of impressive track record of mission accomplishment and in administration and management in the different levels of command and staff positions in his Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao assignments,” Arevalo said.

Jonas Burgos connection

Clement was one of the officers tagged in the disappearance of activist Jonas Burgos in April 2007. He was later cleared of the charges.

“That’s a very old issue and I will not honor them (critics) by answering that. So, if they want to make that an issue, that’s their problem,” he said.

Clement said those accusing him of involvement in the Burgos case “did not even have any iota of evidence against me.” – With Christina Mendez, Jaime Laude

ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES NOEL CLEMENT
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