New AFP Chief talks peace, supports war on drugs

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 18) — Newly-installed Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Carlito Galvez Jr. pledged to keep the doors open for peace while expressing support for the President's war on drugs.

"I take this opportunity to support the peace process with the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) and the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front). We look forward to the final political resolution of conflict in Mindanao," Galvez said on Wednesday during the change of command ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

"Even though soldiers are warriors, we shall always prepare the path for peace. We'll support all peace initiatives of the government," he added.

He also vowed to continue the war against drugs, which funded the operations of extremists in the Marawi siege last year.

"The battle in Marawi has just recently showed us how truly destructive violent extremism can be," Galvez said.

The 50th AFP Chief of Staff also plans to lead the 125,000-strong military to defeat Abu Sayyaf, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, Maute Group and end communist insurgency and terrorism. 

"We have won many battles but we have yet to win the war," he said. "Violent extremism remains a threat. Too much blood has been spilled, too many lives have been lost to terror and hate."

Galvez will retire on December 12. He replaced General Rey Leonardo Guerrero, who bowed out of military service after 38 years.

In his speech, Guerrero reminded the soldiers that "the AFP is a professional organization. It is not a social club."

"Stay the course. Stay true to the core values of honor, service, patriotism and live up to the ideals of public service," he said.