MANILA - Gen. Emmanuel Bautista retired as chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines today but he will not be gone for long.
During turnover rites at Camp Aguinaldo, no less than President Aquino said Bautista will continue to serve in government in a civilian capacity after a well deserved break.
"Duon po sa maghihinayang sa pag-alis ni Manny Sundalo sa AFP at sa serbisyo publiko, huwag po kayong mag-alala. Pagkatapos ng napakahabang bakasyon - mga isang buwan daw ang sabi niya sa akin - ay magbabalik siya para maglingkod bilang sibilyan. Maraming salamat sa iyong serbisyo," he said.
Bautista, who is reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56 on Sunday, relinquished his post to AFP vice chief of staff Lt Gen Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr.
Bautista led the AFP for more than 18 months. He is credited for creating the Internal Peace and Security Plan Bayanihan, a military campaign plan to achieve peace on or before the end of President Aquino’s term.
Bautista earned praised from the public for sending a chopper to the distressed victims of the Florida bus crash in Mt. Province last February 7, 2014 at the request of Gang Badoy, founder of RockEd Philippines who is friend to some of the bus passengers.
Badoy said she contacted a soldier she only referred to as "Manny Sundalo" to request for an airlift for the survivors of the bus crash in Bontoc, Mt. Province.
She said she was "a bit stern" with Manny Sundalo and that she even name-dropped the AFP spokesman during their conversation.
Badoy said she only realized the next day that Manny Sundalo and the Armed Forces chief are one and the same when she saw his photo in the papers.
"Wasak! Lt. Gen Emmanuel Bautista was 'Manny Sundalo' on my phonebook! Aaaaaaugh! Dyahe!! Kaya pala he was saying 'Eh ako rin ang tatawagan ni Col. Zagala,'" Badoy said.
In his speech, Aquino praised Bautista for leading the military through various crises such as the Zamboanga City siege and the Typhoon Yolanda disaster.
"Yan po si General Bautista. Walang ere, walang yabang at walang pagpapasikat. Laging magalang kahit sino ang kausap. Tahimik at masipag na naghahanap na solusyon sa ating kinakaharap," he said.