MANILA — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Monday formally welcomed Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro as its new Chief of Staff.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., along with Vice President Sara Duterte and other government and military officials, witnessed the change of command ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
Marcos described the new AFP leader as “a source of national pride,” particularly noting the military official’s 10-hour fight against 150 fully-armed communist rebels in Isabela in February 1991.
“He was fearless in combat,” Marcos said in his speech as he recounted Bacarro's combat experience that earned him his Medal of Valor, the highest military honor for combat.
“He took out the most formidable foes, faced them head on and emerged triumphant through sheer determination and courage,” the President said.
“We all know now that we have a reliable partner in the helm of the AFP.”
Marcos also noted the Bacarro received the following awards during his decades-long career in the military: 36 Military Merit Medals, nine Combat Commander's (Kagitingan) Badges, five Distinguished Service Stars, two Silver Wing Medals, two Bronze Cross Medals, a Silver Cross Medal and the Philippine Military Academy Outstanding Alumnus Award that he received in 1998.
“The kind of leadership that he possesses… unmatched discipline and unwavering commitment will be useful in the work you have ahead of you,” Marcos said.
Bacarro, 55, is the first AFP chief of staff to be given a fixed three-year-term, in accordance with Republic Act 11709 signed by former President Rodrigo Duterte last April.
Bacarro said he would be using Marcos’ campaign call for “unity” as the guiding acronym of his priorities as military chief.
“Unparalleled professionalism. Noble utilization of resources. Invigorating capability development. Tenacity in sustaining our gains. Yearning for Service Excellence,” Bacarro said.
“We have been steadily increasing our approval ratings… The judicious use of our resources will enable us to stay mission-oriented,” he said.
“We will carefully monitor our acquisition… This will allow us to adapt more quickly and discover things that will help us deliver services more quickly."
Bacarro reminded troops not to squander the AFP’s gains over the years.
“The AFP will continue strengthening its partnership with our peace stakeholders,” he said.
“This yearning streams from a personal commitment to be the best that one can be. You must want to serve our people and our country excellently,” he added.
“There is no room for mediocrity.”
He called on the entire military to help him achieve his goals for the AFP, saying that he is counting on their "individual and collective contributions."
"I call each member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, every officer, soldier, airman, sailor, and marine, as well as our civilian human resources, to always give more than what is expected of you," Bacarro said.
He advised the entire armed forces to adapt his personal mantra of "doing common things uncommonly well," or to put extra effort on even the most mundane tasks.
Bacarro served as the commander of the Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) before he was chosen to head the AFP.
In 2019, Bacarro stepped down as commandant of the PMA’s Cadet Corps after cadet Darwin Dormitorio died from hazing.
He previously served as spokesperson and public affairs chief of the Philippine Army and the AFP.
He replaced Gen. Andres Centino, his classmate from the PMA, as AFP chief of staff.
Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles earlier said that “a new post befitting a former chief of staff” is expected to be given to Centino.
— with report from Raffy Cabristante, ABS-CBN News
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