Moro leaders laud appointment of ‘peacemaker’ Carlito Galvez Jr. as new defense chief

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 9 January) – Moro front leaders and Bangsamoro government officials see a boost to the peace momentum in Mindanao with the appointment of Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. as the new Department of National Defense (DND) chief.

Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. MindaNews file photo by GREGORIO BUENO

Galvez, who heads the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU), has officially accepted the offer of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. after DND Officer-in-Charge Jose Faustino resigned.

Ahod Balawag “Murad” Ebrahim, chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and now the current appointed Bangsamoro Government Chief Minister, said Galvez’s appointment will boost the gains of the peace process.

“We welcome very much the appointment of Secretary Galvez Jr. He was crucial on several occasions in the quest for lasting peace in Mindanao. The last time was his intervention in bringing back the unification of MILF and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF),” Ebrahim said.

He described the career of Galvez as genuine in his pursuit to stabilize the peace and security in these once war-torn areas in Mindanao.

Among the milestones in Galvez’s career that impressed Ebrahim was the former’s visit at the MILF’s Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao on October 7, 2018. Ebrahim said Galvez, who was then the Armed Forces Chief of Staff, was the highest military official to set foot on Camp Darapanan.

Galvez, together with his top Army officials, was warmly welcomed and received salutatory gestures from thousands of MILF combatants who lined up for several kilometers for the grand entrance of his delegation in the former rebel camp.

During the ceremony, the MILF leadership awarded Galvez with the “Soldier of Peace Award,” the first to be given by the MILF organization to any military officer.

That was also the day the MILF officially declared the end of its war against government military troops.

In return, a month after, Galvez invited top MILF officials led by Murad Ebrahim to visit Camp Aguinaldo as guest of honor at the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Minister Muslimin Sema, the MNLF chairman who also heads the Ministry of Labor and Employment (MOLE-BARMM), described Galvez as “peacemaker” and a long-time friend.

“He played an important role in building peace. We have to credit him for that. He opened the door for everybody into a common play ground,” Sema said.

Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Adiong reveres the new assignment of Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.

Then Armed Forces Chief of Staff Carlito Galvez (left) at the MILF’s Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao in 2018. MIndaNews file photo by FERDINANDH B. CABRERA

Adiong said Galvez’s quality of leadership has been tested even during tough times, like his handling of the Marawi Siege as the top commander to topple the terror group and stop the latter’s efforts to exploit more locals to join them.

“He really made efforts to reach out to the ulama (religious leaders), to talk to them and campaign that what happened in Marawi is not good for the Muslim community. He is called here as man of peace,” the governor said.

He also admired Galvez’s handling of the pandemic when he was assigned as the COVID-19 czar, as the vaccination campaign is a huge challenge in Lanao del Sur.

In Matanog, Maguindanao del Norte, which used to be a stronghold of the MILF, Mayor Zohaira “Jo” Guro expressed her commendation to the new defense chief who she described as her last card when she appealed for the immediate repair of the Sarakan Bridge as it was damaged during Typhoon Paeng last year.

“Sec. Galvez Jr. was instrumental to the repair of the broken bridge,” Guro said, pointing out that the role of the Army Engineers.

The bridge’s damage halted the flow of transportation between Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao del Norte.

Galvez had a long stint in Mindanao during his military career, assignments in Mindanao, from being a junior officer to the top post of the Maguindanao-based 6th Infantry Division, then as head of the Western Mindanao Command. (Ferdinandh Cabrera / MindaNews)