MANILA – While conceding that he has not received firm marching orders yet concerning his upcoming Cabinet portfolio as Secretary of the Interior and Local Government, outgoing Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Eduardo Año acknowledged on Monday that President Rodrigo Duterte has given him initial directives.
“Wala pa namang specific (marching orders) sapagkat hindi pa ako nakakaupo. Pero ang mga sinabi niya (referring to President Duterte) ay kung papaano ko ayusin ‘yong local government para umayon sa mga programa ng ating pamahalaan lalo na sa kontra-terorismo, sa war on drugs, at pati rin dito sa communist extortionists (While there is as yet no marching order as we haven’t taken up the post yet, he has given hints about addressing the government program on counter-terrorism, the war on drugs, as well as the communists),” Año said in an interview aired on Radio dzRH.
Año also shared that he was told to ensure that local government services reached far-flung areas and to guarantee good governance that will ensure inclusive growth.
A scant few weeks back, the President announced that the AFP chief would be the next DILG Secretary, saying that he chose a military officer to oversee the Philippine National Police (PNP) because of certain problems with the [organic] police.
The general said he was somewhat caught off guard when he found out he was being named DILG chief, even as there were previous talks of retaining him within the Duterte team after his retirement in October this year.
“Tayo naman, sundalo tayo, hindi umatras sa laban so kailangan natin sundin (But I am a soldier who does not back down, so I will follow orders),” he said.
Año, well known as a rebel hunter and veteran intelligence officer, also said that his 38 years of military service would help him lead DILG, as he has had previous experiences in dealing with both local government units and the police.
“Mula pa nu’ng ako’y tenyente, hanggang ngayon … kasama namin palagi ang kapulisan at saka local government sa paggawa ng kung anu-anong operations at activities sa mga malalayong lugar (When I was a lieutenant, until today … we were always operating with the police and the local government on activities in far-flung areas),” he said.
Año looks forward to continuity in the AFP’s campaign plans against terrorist groups, especially the Abu Sayyaf Group, so the overall objectives of the mission could be achieved.
Plans for the PNP
When asked about his plans for the Philippine National Police (PNP), Año said he intends to remind the police force regarding the service they had chosen, which puts the country’s interest above self.
“There are the rules, regulations, and laws. What needs to be done is to give the police the right enforcement, right understanding, explanation, and ensure compliance. Service to the country and to the people should be above anything else. Meanwhile, your personal interests should be set aside while you’re in the service as a police.”