By Martin Sadongdong
Lieutenant General Noel Clement, erstwhile commander of the Central Command (CentCom) based in Cebu, officially takes the helm of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Tuesday.
President Duterte, Commander-in-Chief, will lead the change of command and retirement ceremony between Clement and outgoing AFP Chief of Staff, General Benjamin Madrigal Jr., around 4:30 p.m. at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.
A testimonial review in Madrigal’s honor will also be held.
Meanwhile, Clement is expected to be given the rank four-star general in the coming weeks.
He is the 52nd AFP Chief of Staff and the sixth under the Duterte administration.
Clement will serve for barely four months, as he is set to reach 56 years old, the mandatory retirement age for military service, on January 5, 2020.
He earlier vowed to focus on enjoining all sectors of society in a massive counter-insurgency campaign to help the President realize his vision of ridding insurgency problems before his term ends in 2022.
Relatedly, Madrigal thanked the General Headquarters in his last flag-raising ceremony on Monday.
Madrigal will cap over 38 years of military service.
“To all of you, our personnel, the very heart of our institution, I will always cherish the dedication, cooperation, and professionalism you have shown during my time at the helm of the AFP. You’ve made my work easier and more fulfilling and for that, I thank you all,” Madrigal said.
Madrigal and Clement are “mistahs”, both having been part of the Philippine Military Academy “Sandiwa” Class of 1985.
Clement is a multi-decorated officer, having had four Distinguished Service Star medals, one Outstanding Achievement Medal, three Bronze Cross Medals, two Meritorious Achievement Medals, and various other awards and commendations.
Prior to his assumption as commander of the Central Command in November 2018, Clement became the commander of the 10th Infantry (AGILA) Division (10ID).
It has operational responsibility over the Davao Region (Region 11), Duterte’s home province; parts of Region 12 particularly in Sarangani, South Cotabato, second district of North Cotabato and Columbio, Sultan Kudarat; Trento, Agusan del Sur; and Lingig, Surigao del Sur.
He had also served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, J3, at Camp Aguinaldo; Commandant of Cadets and Head of Tactics Group at the Philippine Military Academy; Chief of AFP Management and Fiscal Office; and Chief of Army Resource Management Office from 2012 to 2017.
He had served as the commander of Joint Task Group Sulu, Western Mindanao Command in 2014.
He was also assigned at the 501st Infantry Brigade, 5th Infantry Division; 602nd Infantry Brigade, 6th Infantry Division; 56th Infantry Battalion, 7th Infantry Division from 2004 to 2014.
After his graduation from the PMA, he had served as the platoon leader, company commander and held varying staff positions at the 44th Infantry Battalion, 1st Infantry Division from 1985 to 1993.