By Genalyn Kabiling
Martial law will remain in effect in Mindanao due to the lingering threat of terrorism and insurgency, President Duterte announced on Tuesday.
Faced with such security threats, the President also directed government troops to continue to do their job and remain loyal to the Constitution and the people.
“I enjoin our troops to continue performing their duties well, especially as martial law remains in effect in Mindanao,” Duterte said during the Philippine Air Force (PAF) change of command ceremony in Clark, Pampanga.
“There are persisting threats of terrorism and insurgency,” said the commander-in-chief who recently called on the nation to be prepared for any eventuality.
The President also promised the government’s “full support” to the military as it performs its mandate to protect national security.
Duterte issued the the latest remarks even after government troops have already defeated the Islamic State (IS) militants that attacked Marawi City after five months of fighting. The Marawi conflict has claimed more than a thousand people dead and displaced thousands of families from their homes.
The President, in his remarks on Tuesday, thanked the military for helping keep the country “safer and more secure.”
He also recognized the valor and the sacrifices of the Air Force personnel who were killed and wounded in action, particularly the casualties caused by the conflict in Marawi City.
He cited that the PAF deployed several aircraft and more than 400 personnel to Marawi City for combat support and troop movement operations.
In return, he assured that the government was committed to promote the welfare of all PAF personnel and their loved ones.
“That you have left your families and the comfort of your homes to serve the country is truly praiseworthy. Indeed, the Philippines and our people are indebted to you because of the sacrifices you have made every single day,” he said.
He also said the country has made “significant headway” in ridding the country of crime, insurgency, terrorism, and corruption due to the noble contributions of the military.
“May you always stay faithful to the Constitution and the people whom you have sworn to protect. Truly, you have made our country safer and more secure,” he said.
The President was in Clark, Pampanga for the PAF turnover rites and the retirement ceremony of Air Force commanding general Lt. Gen. Edgar Fallorina. The military general stepped down from service after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56.
Fallorina was replaced by Lt. Gen. Galileo Kintanar, chief of the Western Command that monitors the country’s claims in the West Philippine Sea. Kintanar is a member of the Philippine Military Academy class of 1985.
The President congratulated Fallorina for his successful tour of duty as PAF commanding general.
“I am confident that the PAF is in good order, with the several improvements initiated by Lt. Gen. Fallorina and the upgrades made under his administration,” he said.
He said the Air Force has made remarkable improvements such as the establishment of the Jointly Engaged Transforming Force for Greater Peace and Security and reactivation of the Tactical Operations Command and the Air Defense Command.
He also lauded the Air Force for its aerial reconnaissance and maritime patrol missions over the West Philippine Sea, the Benham Rise and other parts of the Philippine territory.
The Air Force has also supported internal security operations in Mindanao by providing air assets for troop movement and close air support to ground troops against the Abu Sayyaf Group and the other terror groups, according to the President.
He said PAF also conducted humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations such airlift of personnel, relief goods and victims.
“I assure you that the PAF (has the) government’s full support as you perform your mandate as an organization. In fact, two C130s and 12 FA-50 aircraft have been added to the PAF since July of last year,” he said.