PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has ordered incoming Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Noel Clement to continue the government’s fight against communist rebels, Malacañang said yesterday.
Clement, the current commander of the Cebu-based Central Command (Centcom), will replace Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr. who will retire next week as he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 56.
“One of the marching orders of the President is to continue the government’s goal to end the local communist armed conflict,” Duterte’s spokesman and legal counsel Salvador Panelo said in a statement as he confirmed the appointment of Clement.
Panelo said the 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 the flag and country,” Panelo said.
Clement will only have a few months as AFP chief as he will reach the mandatory retirement age of 56 in January 2020.
But Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles is confident Clement will deliver even in such a short period of time.
“Alam mo naman ang mga sundalo, bigyan mo ng trabaho, bigyan mo ng order, bigyan mo ng objective gagawin nila. So even with a few months left, kung ilan man ‘yan, I’m sure they will hit the ground the running,” he said.
Clement, the current commander of Cebu-based Central Command (Centcom), would be the sixth AFP chief under Duterte.
He belongs to the Philippine Military Academy “Sandiwa” Class of 1985, the same batch as his predecessors Madrigal and retired AFP chief Carlito Galvez Jr.