(Photo courtesy of Secretary Delfin Lorenzana Facebook page)

MANILA – Outgoing Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he is honored to have worked with President Rodrigo R. Duterte, whose leadership he described as "people-centered".

"Thank you, PRRD (President Rodrigo R. Duterte) Sir! It’s both an honor and a privilege to serve the nation under your exceptional and people-centered leadership," he said in his Facebook post on Thursday.

In the same post, Lorenzana said he received an award from the Chief Executive for his vital role in the country's pandemic response.

"In a simple ceremony last June 16, I received from President Duterte the Lakandula Award-Degree of Grand Cross for serving as Chairperson of the National Task Force against Covid 19 (NTF-Covid-19). I humbly received the award on behalf of the men and women of the NTF-Covid 19 who worked tirelessly and efficiently in the fight against the Covid virus," he added.

Lorenzana became the country's 36th defense secretary last June 30, 2016 and brought to the DND his expertise in national defense and security, special operations, foreign military affairs, public diplomacy, veterans affairs, and strategic leadership.

He is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1973.

Earlier, Lorenzana said the Duterte administration worked hard for the Philippines to attain a credible defense posture to protect its vast maritime territories.
Lorenzana also said the AFP also significantly stepped up its external defense operations to secure the country's strategic border areas and exclusive economic zone by increasing naval surface and maritime air patrols.

Lorenzana is also pleased to note that during his term the AFP launched sustained operations against the communist insurgents and violent extremists which led to the weakening of these pressing security threats.

"The DND, through the AFP, sustained operations that led to the weakening of the communist terrorist group and revitalization of the government’s reintegration program for former rebels and violent extremists. Since 2016, thousands of rebels, violent extremists, and their supporters have returned to the fold of the law, resulting in a major loss of their ground-level support," he added.

Lorenzana said the DND also prioritized international defense and security engagements, wherein agreements were forged with traditional and non-traditional security partners, which brought the Philippines closer to becoming a strategic player in the Asia-Pacific Region.

Under the Duterte administration, the DND further advanced good governance policies aimed at enhancing the organization’s capability to perform its mandate.

Under Republic Act 11709, only the best officers in the AFP can assume the highest posts in the military.

"The principal objective of this law is to allow general officers sufficient time, i.e., three years time-in-grade, to do their jobs. If they are not promoted to the next higher grade, they are retired. This ensures that only the best officers ascend the ladder of leadership. This also puts an end to the revolving door system in the AFP leadership that resulted from the retirement law passed in 1979," Lorenzana said.

Under the new law, the AFP chief-of-staff, vice chief-of-staff, deputy chief-of-staff, heads of the major services (Army, Navy and Air Force), unified command commanders, and inspector general will have a three-year term of office "unless sooner terminated by the President."

The President may only extend the AFP chief-of-staff's tour of duty in times of war or other national emergencies declared by Congress. (PNA)