By Manny Villar
President Rodrigo Duterte announced last month two important appointments to two critical posts in government: Metro Manila police chief Director Oscar Albayalde as the new Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, replacing retiring Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, and Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez as Armed Forces chief of staff vice Lt. Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, who retired last April 18 after a six-month extension in office.
They are important appointments because these are posts critical to the flagship programs of the administration of instituting peace and order and in securing our country.
Several newspapers articles reported that the President solicited the opinion of some people from Davao City regarding who should replace General Bato and when the name of Albayalde came up, they said no, saying, “He’s too strict.” The President of course appointed Albayalde, which is a decision I support.
The PNP occupies a pivotal role in the efforts of the President to maintain peace and order by dismantling the drug trade and thereby addressing the other forms of criminality that comes with it — murder, rape, robbery — not to mention saving Filipino families from the negative effects of illegal drugs.
But in waging the war on drugs, the PNP needs to cleanse its ranks of a few rotten fruits that might destroy the reputation of the majority of the police force who are honest, dedicated, and committed to serve and protect the public. The image and the credibility of the police force is as important as it professionalism and efficiency in ensuring the success of this war. General Bato has done that by suspending, removing, and sometimes taking to court those who abuse their powers. We need someone who is “too strict” to continue the job; to make sure that the gains on the war against drugs are sustained.
I have said many times, even during the 2016 presidential campaign, that peace and order is a crucial issue for our people and something that the new president needs to address in order to sustain our economic performance. President Duterte won largely because this message resonated the most with Filipino voters.
The seriousness and uncompromising stance of President Duterte against those whose intention is to disturb the peace — mainly the drug lords — have made a dent on the illegal drugs operations and have allowed many of our communities to thrive without fear.
The AFP, on the other hand, is important because they are tasked to defend our sovereignty and our security. After defeating the local terrorist groups who violently took over Marawi City, our soldiers have proven that they can defeat the enemy. The military’s victory over the Maute Group sent a clear signal of our seriousness in dealing with terrorism.
But it is important not to rest on our laurels. The threat of terrorism in Southeast Asia has grown stronger. We now have indications that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, have increased their presence in the region. According to security experts, the Marawi Siege as well as terror attacks in Jakarta, Indonesia are just the initial posturing of ISIS and their affiliates in the region.
General Galvez has the unenviable task of ensuring that our armed forces are prepared to meet future security threats from terrorists and other elements. Specifically, he needs to retrain our forces from mere anti-insurgency units into one that can meet the new tactics and strategy of terrorists who employ urban warfare and effective social media propaganda campaigns to further its cause.
Gen. Galvez seems to be perfectly positioned to do this job. As the former chief of the Western Mindanao Command he has extensive experience in the Mindanao conflict and in peace-building efforts in the region. It is no surprise that many sectors, especially in Muslim Mindanao, welcomed his appointment.
I welcome the appointments of these two gentlemen and wish them good luck.