Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Assumption Speech of Lt Gen Benjamin R Madrigal, Jr. AFP, 10th Commander, Eastern Mindanao Command, during the Change of Command Ceremony on 15 November 2017 at NFEM Covered Court, NSFA, Panacan, Davao City

Indeed, it feels good to be back and am excited to work again with the friendly and beautiful people of Eastern Mindanao. We all know that being assigned here in Davao at this time is both a privilege and a challenging task. Privilege, as it is a great honor to be given the responsibility of securing the home region of our beloved President, and a real challenge, because at this time, we can say that all roads, big and small, lead to Davao and this provide us with many economic opportunities. However, this insurgency problem continues to be a hindrance to the bright prospects of the future of this region and the government’s success in totally defeating insurgency in our country depends highly on our success here in eastern Mindanao.

And so today, as I assume command of the Eastern Mindanao Command, I thank the Great Architect of the Universe, the Lord Almighty, for the many blessings that He continues to bestow upon me and my family, including this assignment, and for guiding me throughout my military career and my personal life.

I would also like to express my profound gratitude to our Presiding Officer, the Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Gen Rey Leonardo B Guerrero, and the members of the AFP Board of Generals for their vote of confidence. Let me also thank the former Chief of Staff, Gen Eduardo M Ano, for his support and for paving the way for my professional advancement. My special thanks, of course, also go to the Secretary of National Defense, Sec Delfin N Lorenzana, for his very valuable endorsement to the President and Commander-in-Chief, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, who eventually gave me the honor of taking over this command.

My sincere gratitude also goes to the many people who have helped shape my career and have played important roles in my life. My superiors, peers, subordinates, and friends who have all contributed and brought me to this position, many of whom took real effort to be here with us in this momentous event – daghang salamat kaninyo tanan.

I would also like to thank the officers, men and women of the Armed Forces, whom I have worked with, for you are all part of what I am today. This includes of course, the members of Philippine Military Academy Sandiwa Class of 1985 and their ladies, (please rise to be recognized).

Of course, I pay tribute to my family who have always been my source of inspiration and who have always supported me and willingly accepted the demands of my military profession. To my parents, to whom I owe my life and what I am today.

To my lovely wife, Gemma, my Nr 1 supporter, ever patient coach, and honest-to-goodness critic. Let me also acknowledge our children, Jed, Daryl, Monica and Nicky, although they are not here, for they have come to understand the responsibilities of the military uniform I wear.

Charge and Vision

It is indeed a great honor to accept this position and responsibility of taking the helm of EastMinCom. Looking at the long line of distinguished Commanders who came before me, (and this includes of course our presiding officer) I am overwhelmed with humility and pride to stand and be counted among you, sir.

For those who are not in the know, I am very fortunate to have taken over positions vacated by our Chief of Staff in the past. I replaced him in a number of instances during our lieutenant days at 3/2 Brigade in Bondoc Peninsula, as aide-de-camp to the 2ID and SOLCOM commander (though we had different bosses). I also replaced him as commander of 701st Brigade in Davao Oriental, after he has led the declaration of the province as Conflict-manageable and ready for further development. And in these instances, l consider myself very lucky, because he has always very well prepared the unit for me (Sigurado po ako na plantsado na lahat ng plano, that I am taking over an efficient and motivated work force, and that all I have to do is follow through and continue on with what he has started. Maraming salamat po, sir). On the other hand, I am also apprehensive and challenged, because it is definitely hard to follow in his footsteps. I know that his performance and accomplishments as a commander are hard to sustain, much more to surpass. Add to that his very good relationship and rapport with our stakeholders.

And so, to the Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines, General Guerrero, sir, and to all the former EastMinCom commanders before us, my endless thanks for laying the groundwork and for the glorious years of this command which I promise to nurture.

I am well aware of the towering expectations of our political leaders, as well as the stakeholders in the areas that we cover. Nonetheless, even as I face high expectations and challenges in this position, I feel a great sense of confidence knowing that we have here at EastMinCom a capable and dedicated team who will work with me to attain these goals. Moreover, I also draw inspiration from the fact that we have a very cooperative environment, with our stakeholders not only sharing our common purpose and desire, but leading us in the objective of providing good governance and service to our people to eventually achieve a truly secure and progressive environment.

Call to Perform

As espoused by the DND-AFP leadership, there are two strategic precepts that shape our institutional direction today, both of which demand from us key results at the end of the year. One is the DSSP Kapayapaan, the goal of which is to end insurgency and all forms of threat to our national security, and second, is the AFP Transformation Roadmap, the goal of which is to develop a world-class armed forces loved by the people and a source of national pride.

These will be my priorities. They are definitely interdependent, because their success are both driven by intensified stakeholder engagements and genuine development initiatives, especially in the conflict-affected areas. Likewise, I also believe that one single misdemeanor or breech of discipline by our troops will discredit our credibility or erase all our operational accomplishments. As such, we will pursue a culture of professionalism among our people for them to always bear in mind our mandate to serve our people and protect the state. We will nurture the command’s tradition of excellence and encourage everyone to do their best at all times. We will endeavor to achieve good governance to promote accountability and foster good work environment.

Moreover, the advent of terrorism and violent extremism is one which also requires our earnest cooperation and concerted effort, especially in enlightening the minds of our people, especially the youth.

Kung kaya’t, sa lahat po ng ating kababayan na nasasakupan ng Eastern Mindanao Command, makakaasa po kayo na kasama nyo kami sa hangaring makamit ang ating minimithing kapayapaan at kasaganaan. Mas pag iibayuhin po namin ang aming kakayahan, pakikiisa at paninnindigan upang wakasan na ang mga pwersang naghahasik ng kaguluhan.

To our unit commanders, let us work together, perform our roles with passion, with persistence, and dedication. Let us give life to our transformation program. Let us all work together to become exemplars of discipline, professionalism, and integrity.

Let us endeavor to work as a team, and as such, we must move together in unison, beat with one heart, and work with the same intensity. Let us be each other’s model and each other’s guardian. We must remember that a little stain in your integrity can inflict deep wounds in our character as an organization and may even erode the credibility of the whole armed forces. Show our men and our people that we are one with them, an integral part of the community, and that we are their dependable partner, ready to fulfill our core purpose of “protecting the people and the state”.

Likewise, we must remember that as an organization, success can only be attained with the full support, coordination, and integrated actions of our inter-agency partners, local government counterparts, and concerned civil society groups. Realizing this, we must be able to engage all sectors and all stakeholders and further improve the good relationships that we have already established with the grassroot communities.

To our stakeholders, our interagency partners, the local government executives and officials, and to our constituents, rest assured that this command under my watch shall remain to be your reliable pillar of support which shall endeavor to perform its mandate to serve our people and secure our communities against all threats. This time around, I emphasize that we will embrace the peace and development agenda of our political leaders. We will be your reliable partner in nation building and in times of calamities, and we will be an integral part of your effort to develop and empower our people and our communities, especially in conflict affected areas.

On the other hand, we can only achieve peace, security, development and prosperity in this part of the country if we achieve meaningful concensus, demonstrate our resolve to find ways to work together, and promote a climate of cooperation and mutual support. As such, let us continue to join hands so that we will see continued progress in this part of our country and take pride in our region that is leading our country to better economic prospects.

For my part, let me assure all of you, the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines of EastMinCom and our stakeholders, that I will do my very best in leading this command. In line with the priorities and strategic direction of higher headquarters, I will endeavor to faithfully implement our campaign plan in accordance with the timelines and target goals set by higher headquarters. I will endeavor to develop a culture of professionalism, performance excellence, and good governance. We will “divide the pie” so to speak, such that every personnel and every unit must have their respective target goals and must do their best to accomplish same. Everyone must feel the same sense of urgency in what we are doing, because every day counts. It is my personal pledge to build EastMinCom into a truly formidable team, and for this, I count on every member of this team, our subordinate units to join me in this commitment, and with the help of our God Almighty, the continued support and guidance of our superiors, and with the utmost cooperation, determination, dedication, and commitment of all members of the team, I am fully confident that we will prevail and succeed.

Once again, to all of you who joined me on this memorable day, thank you very much and may God bless us all!

Mabuhay ang Eastern Mindanao Command!

Mabuhay tayong lahat!

Source: Public Information Office, Eastern Mindanao Command, AFP

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