MANILA, Philippines–Outgoing Armed Forces Chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista has shunned testimonial parades and has instead embarked on a “Talk to Men” journey to personally thank the troops before making his final exit as AFP head.
“He forgoes the parade to have an opportunity to speak to his men, than watch them parade. He chose to talk to them to personally thank them,” said AFP public affairs chief Col. Ramon Zagala on the preparations being made for Friday’s turnover of command.
Bautista retires from military service on his 56th birthday on July 20, a Sunday. The turnover is taking place two days earlier.
The AFP chief concluded farewell visits to the headquarters of the major services and the various commands yesterday. The last leg of his tour included a visit to the Southern Luzon Command Headquarters in Lucena City.
He also bade farewell to the men at the Philippine Navy’s Bonifacio Naval Station in Taguig, Philippine Air Force Headquarters in Pasay City, and Philippine Army Headquarters, also in Taguig.
“Our tasks going forward are challenging, but we only need to stand united as one organization loyal to our mandate as defender of our people and our nation. I am confident that the AFP will carry on with its accomplishments whoever the next chief of staff is,” Bautista said in a speech at the Villamor Airbase a few days ago.
Army Chief Lt. Gen. Hernando Iriberri presented Bautista with a plaque of his Command Duties and praised his leadership in the implementation of reform programs like the Bayanihan, Army Transformation Roadmap and the AFP Transformation Roadmap.
Navy Flag Officer in Command Vice Adm. Jesus Millan thanked Bautista, who received a replica of the BRP Alcaraz as memento, for his support to the Navy’s Strategic Sail Plan 2020 in connection with the AFP Transformation Roadmap.
At Villamor Air Base, Bautista thanked the officers and personnel of the Air Force for their role in defending the country’s territory, in assisting survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda, and in supporting the operations in Zamboanga City.
Bautista also visited the Philippine Military Academy in Baguio City on July 12; Northern Luzon Command in Tarlac on July 11; and Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City; and Eastern Mindanao Command in Davao City on July 10.
He started his tour with Wescom in Palawan and the Central Command (Centcom) in Cebu on July 9, where he thanked the two units for their commitment and dedication in fulfilling vital roles during his term.
Centcom was at the center of the humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations of the AFP in the aftermath of Yolanda. Wescom is in the frontline in the defense of Philippine territories in the South China Sea.
“They saw us in Bohol, Leyte and Panay [that were] ravaged by Yolanda. It is there that we wholeheartedly and skillfully showed the dedication of our soldiery. With that, I thank all of you,” Bautista told the Centcom personnel.
The “Talk to Men” tour is a tradition among retiring chiefs of staff to ensure a smooth transition and turnover of the AFP’s highest position and responsibility by meeting with various commanders, officers and enlisted personnel, and civilian employees.
Among the contenders to the post being vacated by Bautista are Armed Forces Vice Chief Lt. Gen. Gregorio Catapang, Deputy Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Virgilio Domingo, Air Force Chief Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado, Navy Chief Vice Adm. Jesus Millan, and Iriberri.
President Aquino, as the Commander in Chief, is expected to announce Bautista’s successor before the turnover of command.