Kawal na Pilipino

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today presided over the ceremonies marking the change of command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) at the AFP’s headquarters at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

Wearing a cream barong outfit, the President was given full military honors, including a 21-gun salute, upon her arrival at 11:15 a.m. at the Camp Aguinaldo Grandstand where the change of command ceremonies were held.

Before delivering her speech, the President witnessed the testimonial parade in honor of outgoing AFP chief of staff Gen. Alexander Yano whom she later awarded with the Philippine Legion of Honor medal.

Submitting his Tour of Duty Report to President Arroyo, Yano, the country’s 38th AFP chief of staff, thanked the President for the honor and opportunity to have served as a “Kawal na Pilipino.”

“Your Excellency, I am proud to have served this country alongside my fellow Kawal Pilipino. I am grateful to the AFP and to you, our commander-in-chief, for this honor and opportunity.

“Your Excellency, you also gave this Mindanaoan the undeserved privilege of serving the Kawal Pilipino (as) chief of staff,” Yano told the President in his remarks.

In her speech, the President extolled Yano for his various accomplishments as AFP chief of staff.

“…I applaud our recently retired Gen. Alexander Yano. As fiercely as he fought the enemies of the State, he has worked just as passionately to secure the wellbeing of the ordinary soldier and to give former rebels a second chance to live in peace, a second chance to be part of the great Filipino workforce,” the President said.

“To modernize and strengthen his revered institution, Alex Yano focused on improving the life of the ordinary soldier. He was the one who proposed to me the issuance of sleeping bags and prepaid cellular phone cards to the soldiers fighting in the wilderness of the Lanao and Cotabato provinces.

“These benefits, funded by the Katas ng VAT program, were soon followed by scholarships for soldiers’ children and financial assistance for parents of military men assigned to the field,” the President added.

She pointed out that “as the only son of Mindanao to be named chief of staff, Gen. Yano applied his knowledge of the intricacies of the conflict there and went all out in support of the peace process through the various development and cultural integration programs.”

The President then announced Yano’s new assignment: “Gen. Yano will now continue to pursue peace in Mindanao as Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam. Upon recommendation of the Foreign Affairs Secretary, his retirement from the military has been advanced by a few weeks in order to have sufficient time for his confirmation — hopefully before Congress adjourns in early June. Congratulations, Alex, and thank you.”

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