MANILA — Former Armed Forces chief Jose Faustino on Friday formally took over the helm of the defense department in a hybrid transition ceremony, the Department of National Defense (DND) has announced.
The DND earlier said Faustino was reinfected with COVID-19, which apparently prompted the virtual rites at the DND Building in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
At the ceremony, Faustino vowed that he will ensure a smooth implementation of the military modernization program.
"I have big shoes to fill, but with the grace of God, I vow to lead the Department towards excellence guided by the core values of patriotism, professionalism and good governance," he said.
Faustino will oversee the operations of the DND and its bureaus — the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Government Arsenal, the National Defense College of the Philippines, the Office of Civil Defense, and the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office, said Arsenio Andolong, spokesman of the department.
In a speech, former Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he will leave the post with "confidence" that he was able to lead the DND to a "more robust, inclusive, and modern path."
"We still have a lot to do to be at par with our regional partners in the ASEAN, but with our present gains, we can gradually start catching up,” he added.
Lorenzana expressed support for Faustino, saying he is the "right man" for the job.
“His success is so consequential that it will define a decades-worth of our defense posture, hence, he will need at his disposal the same patriotic fervor, professional work ethic, and results-oriented mindset.”
Faustino was named President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s DND secretary but would first work as an undersecretary due to technicalities.