Here is the speech of General Eduardo Oban Jr., our 42nd AFP Chief of Staff, upon his assumption of duties in the Armed Forces of the Philippines replacing the position of General Ric David. It was delivered at Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo on March 7, 2011 attended by President Benigno Aquino III.
Seventy-four years ago, the first President of the Philippine Republic, General Emilio Aguinaldo, with the birth of our nation, created what is now the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Today, as we stand on this hollowed ground upon whose honor this camp is named, we your Armed Forces, continue to commit to the same ideals and values by which our country, and our Armed Forces were born. It is with this sense of history that I assume with great pride, and with even greater humility, the position of the 42nd Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
I bring into this office my eternal gratitude to our Commander in Chief, His Excellency President Benigno S. Aquino III, and our Defense Secretary, the Honorable Voltaire T. Gazmin, for the trust and confidence, and for making me a key player in the crusade for good governance, ever mindful of the President’s expectations for the Armed Forces to be not only the protector of our people, but the showcase of a clean and honest administration.
Mahal na Pangulo, kasama niyo kami sa pagtahak ng matuwid na daan.
I bring into this office my gratefulness to the men and women of the Armed Forces, for the team spirit; from the youngest soldiers, represented here by Private Glorioso de Dios and Airwoman Christine Teodoro, who both at age 18, have decided to serve the nation, (please stand up to be recognized); to the oldest, Chief Petty Officer Erwin Pelaez, representing others who will soon retire, leaving a legacy of selfless service to our people.
I bring into this office the love and support of my family and friends, especially that of my wife, Toton, my son Tobit, and my mother, Elvira—I assure you that as Chief of Staff, you have not lost me, but rather, you have just gained a bigger family of more than 120,000 servicemen.
And I bring into this office my faith and fear in our Lord, by whose Grace and Divine Providence I take on this stewardship, and who, when my time is up, shall judge me not by what I have made of myself, but by what I have made of His people.
I shall discharge my functions with three basic tenets from where all other policy guidance will flow.
First and foremost, we shall sustain the reform initiatives laid down by those who came before me, most particularly General Ricardo A. David Jr., and implement fully the findings of the 2005 Feliciano Commission, so that the vestiges of the past will not reappear to be as if it is of the present. We shall have nothing to fear if we have nothing to hide.
In this I recite my pledge;
I pledge to strengthen the procurement process and ensure accountability of every resource manager in the Armed Forces. We shall strive to fully computerize the procurement system where every transaction can be fully documented and accessed. We shall push for amendments in the Government Procurement Reform Act that will allow the application of new systems, like purchase cards where transactions leave indelible credit trails.
I pledge to safeguard funds from all sources, including that of Balikatan and the United Nations, and especially those coming from our taxes, the blood and sweat of our people, and I shall hold myself accountable for their proper and effective utilization. We shall strengthen institutional checks and balances between program directors and program administrators; between budget officers and procurement officers, and undertake unannounced audits more frequently.
And I pledge to strengthen enforcement and prosecution of those who are not willing to work on the same pledge.
In every activity of the Armed Forces, we shall remove the two basic conditions that breed corruption—opportunity and motivation. By further strengthening our systems and procedures that shall ensure accountability of every resource, and by promoting a culture that will encourage every soldier not to tolerate corrupt practices, we shall overcome. By discouraging material gain as a measure of success, and encouraging a simple and healthy lifestyle, yes, we shall overcome.
My fellow servicemen, we need to strengthen our organization because the tasks that lie ahead require the full and effective application of our resources. Winning and keeping the peace is no easy task. I shall focus on the road map provided me by General David, the IPSP [Internal Peace and Security Plan] Bayanihan. We are inspired by the fact that Bayanihan simply taps into the Filipino way of life, that has moved our nipa huts of long ago to better places that has planted our rice fields in the same spirit of cooperation that has brought forth unto our people a sense of nation.
At dahil lahat tayo ay gusto ng kapayapaan, lahat tayo ay dapat magbayanihan. Sawa na ang taongbayan sa insurgency, sa terorismo, sa mga bandido at mga tulisan. Sobra na. Subukan na nating mamuhay nang mapayapa. At dahil lahat tayo kasama sa IPSP Bayanihan, we will win the peace in every turn. Wala tayong hindi magagawa kung ang ating bansa ay sama-sama.
And in our primary role of ensuring the defense of our country, we shall sustain all efforts to modernize our Armed Forces. Even as I speak, Philippine Navy officers are now in the United States of America preparing to sail our first Hamilton-class navy ship to the Philippines. This would impact on our capability for maritime security. Within my watch, the Air Force will accept delivery of the final batch of basic trainer aircraft, the initial batch of combat utility helicopters, and the completion of the depot maintenance of one C-130. These translate to training enhancement and boost to air mobility, while Marine troopers await the arrival of 1¼-ton and 2¼-ton trucks, certainly improving their ground mobility.
In all our endeavors, we shall leverage on the greatest strength of the Armed Forces, at ito ang ating kasundaluhan, kayo na nakaparada ngayon sa aming harapan, at lalo na ang mga naka-duty ngayon sa buong kapuluan, for in us belong the best in soldiers, sailors, and airmen, never wanting in talent and dedication, multi-skilled, multilingual, much more than many of our counterparts. We shall sustain professional growth by continuous training and exposure, both unilaterally and with our allies, and support their morale and welfare in terms of housing and other benefits. Kami ay nagpapasalamat sa ating Pangulo at Pangalawang Pangulo sa 20,000 housing units na inyong ipinagkaloob sa ating kasundaluhan. We shall speed up the process so that they can be awarded to deserving beneficiaries at the soonest possible time. Tunay na mahalaga po sa amin ‘yan.
At sa loob ng ating mga kampo, pagtutuunan natin ng pansin ang mga commissary and exchanges, kung saan ang murang grocery items at iba pang basic commodities ay malaking tulong sa family budget ng sundalo. Pagagandahin natin itong tulad ng isang tunay na SM, Soldier’s Mall, at pag-iibayuhin ang serbisyong hatid nito sa atin.
Truly, by providing low-cost housing and an inexpensive source of our groceries and daily needs, we can increase the purchasing power of our salaries and sustain a decent and comfortable standard of living.
We are proud to be part of the bigger family of government under our President and Commander in Chief, whose various branches work day-in and day-out to deliver basic services, knowing fully well that love of country does not consist of a single burst of heroics, but rather the day-to-day grind until one’s work is done.
We share the dreams of our nation, a country at peace and a people with freedom from want.
But we do know that our dreams won’t work unless we do. While awaiting the fruits of our modernization, we shall work with what we’ve got. Just like the biblical David, to our very own General Ricardo David Jr., I say again, we shall work with what we’ve got. When the Lord asked David to slay Goliath, all he had was a slingshot and two stones. He worked with what he’s got, and he defeated the enemy. But perhaps, the reason why David succeeded was that he looked at Goliath not as an adversary too big to defeat, but as a target too large to miss.
My fellowmen, winning the peace gives us a target that is too hard to miss. Let us all buckle down to work and let us begin right now.
Mabuhay ang kawal Pilipino!
Mabuhay and Sandatahang Lakas ng Pilipinas!
Mabuhay ang lahing Pilipino!
Maraming salamat po, at magandang umaga sa inyong lahat!