LGen Noel Clement is next AFP chief of staff

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/20 September)— An Army general who has earned his stars fighting the communist-led New People’s Army has been appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as the next Armed Forces Chief of Staff.

File photo of then MGen Noel Clement speaking in a media forum in Davao City on 16 November 2018. BOBBY TIMONERA

LGen Noel Clement, commander of the AFP Central Command 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 (and we’re thanking) President for giving me his trust and confidence,” Clement told reporters in Cebu.

Clement is the sixth AFP chief of staff appointed by Duterte.

His previously served as commander of the 10th Infantry 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 with the 10th ID and AFP Central Command, Clement led joint AFP-MILF operations to find suspected terrorist Abdul Basit Usman in Pikit, North Cotabato in 2015.

Usman, who carried a US$1-million bounty, was reportedly killed by his comrades in 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 worked at fruit giant Dole Philippines.

As AFP Central Command commander, Clement ordered operations against the New Peoples Army rebels around Guinhulgan town in Negros Oriental.

He was named as one of the respondents in the case related to the “disappearance” of activist-agriculturist Jonas Burgos when he was still the commander of the 56th Infantry Battalion in Bataan.

The general denied any involvement in the Burgos case saying it is an old issue.

“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,” he said.

Clement said he will pursue the AFP campaign against the NPA but this time with the involvement of the entire Filipino people.

“Hindi puwedeng yung armed forces lang or yung local government units lang (The armed forces and the local government cannot do it alone). This is a national problem so we have to address as a people,” he said. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)