MANILA – The Philippine Air Force (PAF) on Tuesday welcomed its new chief, Lt. Gen. Galileo Gerard Kintanar Jr., who previously held the post tasked to guard the disputed West Philippine Sea.
Kintanar, former chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines' Western Command in Palawan, replaced Lt. Gen. Edgar Fallorina as PAF commanding general, becoming its 35th chief.
President Rodrigo Duterte was present during the PAF’s change of command ceremony at the Clark Air Base in Pampanga.
In his speech, Duterte congratulated Fallorina for improving the services of PAF, which played a significant role in ending the Marawi crisis by sending its air assets and 400 of its troops to the besieged city.
“We recognize the valor and the sacrifices of the PAF personnel who were killed and wounded in action, particularly the casualties caused by the conflict in Marawi City. Rest assured that the Philippines is committed to promote the welfare of all PAF personnel and their loved ones,” Duterte said in his speech.
“That you have left your families and the comfort of your homes to serve the country is truly praise-worthy. Indeed, the Philippines and our people are indebted to you because of the sacrifices you have made every single day.”
The President also noted PAF’s aerial reconnaissance and maritime patrol missions over the disputed West Philippine Sea, the Benham Rise and other parts of the Philippine territory.
Duterte promised more support for the Air Force, noting that two C130s and 12 FA-50 fighter jets have been added to the PAF inventory since July 2016.
Kintanar said defending the country’s maritime and territorial integrity will be among his top priorities.
“Similar to every commander who came before me, I take my command of the Air Force as a trust to protect, a charge to keep and a 24/7 commitment to deliver in the service of the nation,” Kintanar said in his speech.
“Given the relative vulnerabilities of many areas in our country, particularly in Mindanao, to the visits of natural calamities and human-induced calamities …we find the higher goal of resilient development a very worthy end.”
Fallorina, the outgoing PAF chief, for his part thanked all who played a role in his life as a military man and as PAF chief.