No intention to restrain freedom of speech in bid to regulate social media use – AFP chief Gapay

Robie de Guzman   •   September 2, 2020   •   812

MANILA, Philippines – Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Lieutenant General Gilbert Gapay on Wednesday clarified that the military has no intention of imposing “prior restraint” on freedom of expression when he proposed the regulation of social media under the controversial Anti-Terrorism Law.

Gapay made the clarification during the deliberation of the Commission on Appointments on his nomination to a rank of a general.

He said his proposal is not tantamount to curtailing the people’s freedom of expression as he stressed that the goal is to regulate social media platforms and service providers and not its users.

Gapay said that based on intelligence reports and their experience, terrorist groups often use the social media and the internet to recruit new members and solicit money and support from their sympathizers and other sources to fund their criminal acts.

“These terror cells are operating particularly in the dark web in the internet. And these are the things that we really want to regulate and address because they really communicate with each other through the internet,” he said.

“That is why in close coordination with social media platforms, perhaps we could come up with mechanisms on how to address these acts enumerated in the 2020 Anti-Terror Law,” he added.

Gapay earlier said he wants to include a provision that will regulate the usage of social media in the implementing rules and regulations of the controversial measure. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

Sobejana bows out of military service; Faustino assumes post

Maris Federez   •   August 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Cirilito Sobejana relinquished his post in a Retirement and Change of Command Ceremony on Saturday (July 31).

An AFP statement released Saturday said Sobejana bowed out of service as he reached the mandatory retirement age of 56, after spending over 38 years in the military.

Sobejana who is a Medal for Valor recipient, has been replaced by LtGen. Jose Faustino, the current commander of the Joint Task Force Mindanao, the statement said.

“My tenure as the 55th Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines has truly been full of challenges and trials; but together with more than the 200,000-strong men and women of the AFP whose tenacity, strength, and heart have made us overcome all odds,” Sobejana said in his farewell speech.

He also expressed his respect and gratitude to all the personnel in the military forces for their invaluable service.

“I have only the highest respect and admiration for our soldiers who have, and continuously, dedicated the best years of their lives in the name of public service. Sa lahat ng sundalo ng ating Sandatahang Lakas, taas-noo at buong puso ang aking pasasalamat sa inyong walang katapat na serbisyo,” he added.

Sobejana spent most of his military career in Mindanao where he commanded different AFP units as he rose the ranks since graduating from the Philippine Military Academy in 1987.

Prior to his stint as the AFP Chief of Staff, Sobejana assumed the post of Army Commanding General and the Commander of the Western Mindanao Command.

In May 2019, President Rodrigo Duterte bestowed him the Award of Philippine Legion of Honor (Degree of Officer), for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service rendered to the Philippine government, particularly to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

He received another Philippine Legion of Honor (Degree of Chief Commander) for “laudable and meritorious conduct in the performance of his duties as the 55th Chief of Staff,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, incoming AFP Chief of Staff LtGen. Faustino called on the men and women in the military to stay united and committed to providing service to the country.

“It is my belief that the true measure of a Filipino soldier is not in the badge or rank we wear, not about the position we attain or appointed to. It is the loyalty and integrity of every man and woman serving the AFP that will keep us going in the right direction,” Faustino said.

“As I embark on this new journey with each and every one of you belonging to Team AFP, allow me to say to every soldier, airman, sailor, and marine– let us stay positive on the course ahead, bind together as one family, commit with open minds, participate actively, work towards the attainment of our shared goals, develop good ideas and innovate to suit our domain,” he added.

Prior to his designation as AFP chief, Faustino was appointed as the Commander of JTF Mindanao in June, following a successful stint as the Acting Commanding General of the Philippine Army.

A member of the Philippine Military Academy “Maringal” Class of 1988, he likewise had been Battalion and Brigade Commander in Western Mindanao particularly in Basilan and Sulu, the statement said.

4 more fatalities in Sulu C-130 crash identified – AFP

Robie de Guzman   •   July 30, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday said it has identified four more bodies of military personnel who perished in the C-130 crash in Sulu.

The AFP identified them as Sergeant Jelson Sadjail, Corporal Alhamin Salahuddin, Private First Class Alzid Hawrani, and Private First Class Nazer Albaracin.

The identified bodies were all from the Philippine Army, it added.

In total, the AFP said 33 cadavers have now been identified while 17 are still undergoing the “tedious” process of identification as most of the fatalities were burned beyond recognition.

“The AFP through the Western Mindanao Command has reached out to the loved ones of the identified personnel while their remains are being prepared for transport and proper burial,” the military said.

The C-130 plane crashed in Patikul, Sulu last July 4. It was carrying 96 passengers when the incident occurred.

More than 50 people died, including 3 civilians on the ground, and 46 were injured in the fiery crash.

Duterte names ex-Army chief Faustino as next AFP chief of staff

Robie de Guzman   •   July 30, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has picked Lt. Gen. Jose Faustino as the next chief of staff of the Armed Forces of thee Philippines (AFP), a document shared to the media showed.

Duterte signed Faustino’s appointment paper on July 29 but a copy of which was only made public on Friday.

Faustino’s term will take effect on July 31 when outgoing AFP chief General Cirilito Sobejana retires from military service.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) welcomed Faustino’s designation to the post.

The AFP said Faustino is the current commander of the Joint Task Force Mindanao.

He was also the former Acting Commanding General of the Philippine Army and Commander of the AFP Eastern Mindanao Command.

“His wealth of experience and passion for service as a Commander and staff officer, gives him the mettle to lead the AFP in accomplishing its mission especially as we turn up a notch our operations in achieving lasting peace and development in the country,” the AFP said.

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