New AFP chief is Davao-raised, combat-tested army general who heads Centcom
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines —An army general who has earned his spurs fighting the communists has been by President Rodrigo Duterte as the next Armed Forces Chief of Staff.
Lieutenant General Noel Clement, commander of the AFP Central Command (Centcom) based in Cebu, bested several other contenders from various AFP area commands, according to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
“I am honored with the designation and nagpasalamat tayo kay President for giving me his trust and confidence,” Clement told reporters in Cebu.
Clement is the six AFP chief of staff appointed by President Duterte during his term.
His previous assignment was commander of the Army 10th Army Division fighting communist rebels in Northeastern and southern Mindanao
He assumed command of the AFP Central Command on Nov. 16, 2018.
Prior to his stint as commander of 10th Army Division and AFP Central Command, Clement led joint AFP-MILF operations to find suspected terror bomber Abdul Basit Usman in Pikit, North Cotabato in 2015.
Usman who carried a US$1 million bounty, was killed by fellow terrorists on the same year.
Clement is a member of PMA class 1985 and was born in Lipa City in Batangas on Jan. 5, 1964.
He was raised in Davao where his father works at the DOLE Philippines.
As AFP Central Command commander, Clement ordered operations against the New Peoples Army rebels around Guinhulgan town in Negros Oriental.
Clement was also named as one of the respondents in the disappearance of activist-agriculturist Jonas Burgos when he was still the commander of the 56th Infantry Battalion in Bataan.
The general, who was later cleared of the charges, denied any involvement to the Burgos case saying it is an old case.
“That’s a very old issue and I will not honor them by answering that. They did not even have any iota of evidence against me,” Clement said.
Clement said he will pursue the AFP campaign against the communist rebels but this time with the involvement of the entire Filipino people.
“Hindi puwedeng yung armed forces lang or yung local government units lang. This is a national problem so we have to address as a people,” Clement said. /elb
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