NEW CHIEF. Department of National Defense officer-in-charge (OIC), Undersecretary Jose Faustino Jr. (right) pays tribute to his predecessor Delfin Lorenzana (left) during the turnover rites on Friday (July 1, 2022). Faustino, who attended the turnover virtually after testing positive for Covid-19, vowed to sustain the gains achieved by Lorenzana in protecting the country's territorial sovereignty. (Screenshot from DND Facebook live video)

MANILA – Department of National Defense (DND) officer-in-charge (OIC), Undersecretary Jose Faustino Jr. on Friday vowed to continue the undertaking laid down by his predecessor Delfin Lorenzana, in defending the country's territorial integrity.

"Sir (referring to Lorenzana), rest assured that we will continue all the good undertakings that you have laid down to defend our country's territorial integrity, protect the Filipino people and ensure the sovereignty of our Republic. Secretary Lorenzana, Sir we cannot thank you enough," Faustino said during the turnover rites at the DND, which he attended virtually while in isolation after testing positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

He also vowed to consult with the former DND chief if needed considering Lorenzana's vast experience and accomplishments.

Faustino also lauded Lorenzana, the country's 36th DND chief, for laying down the solid foundation for the DND and making it more responsive to the challenges of the times.

"Through your tireless efforts and innovative programs, the department made significant strides in ensuring that our sovereignty and territorial integrity is well protected and resilient as ever. More so with your leadership and examples, you have made the defense department stronger and more responsive to the challenges of the times," he added.

Faustino also ensured the smooth implementation of the ongoing modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in order to protect the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

"We will ensure the smooth implementation of our modernization program in order to strengthen the protection of our sovereignty, defense of our territorial integrity, and ensuring the continuity of our peaceful way of life. Indeed, the future will be so bright with us working in unity, manifested by our consistent and synergized actions," he added.

In assuming his post as DND OIC, Faustino vowed to "judiciously, prudently and conscientiously exercise my authority and responsibility and faithfully discharge the powers and functions vested in me for the supervision and control of the department, as can be gleaned from your tour of duty report, your accomplishments."

"I have big shoes to fill but with the grace of God I vow to lead the department towards excellence guided by the core values of patriotism, professionalism, and good governance. Thank you very much, Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Sir," he added.

Faustino also thanked President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and God for the trust and opportunity given to him in leading the DND.

He also called his posting to the DND an honor and expressed his appreciation for the warm response of its officials and employees to his appointment.

"The future holds many challenges but with us together working as one, the department or, working together as one Department of National Defense, these challenges will certainly be faced with vigor and resolute actions. All our efforts will be aligned to the vision of the President, our department's actions and trajectory will always be guided by his wisdom. He has made it very clear that we will work tirelessly for a better and stronger Philippines by ensuring a steady economic recovery through responsive mission-building initiatives that are solidly anchored on national unity," Faustino said.

"We will ensure the smooth implementation of our modernization program in order to strengthen the protection of our sovereignty, defense of our territorial integrity and ensuring the continuity of our peaceful way of life. Indeed, the future will be so bright with us working in unity, manifested by our consistent and synergized actions," Faustino said.

Faustino, a retired AFP chief-of-staff, will assume office as defense secretary on November 13, after the one-year appointment ban on retired military officials.

He took over the AFP leadership from Gen. Cirilito Sobejana who retired from military service on July 31, 2021. He retired as AFP chief after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56 on November 12 of the same year.

Prior to his assumption as the 56th AFP chief-of-staff, Faustino was the head of the Joint Task Force Mindanao and has also served as the acting commanding general of the Philippine Army. He is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1988. (PNA)