CHANGE OF COMMAND. Philippine Army chief, Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., presides over the change of command ceremony at the 4th Infantry Division headquarters in Cagayan de Oro City on Thursday (March 23, 2023). Maj. Gen. Jose Maria Cuerpo II succeeds Maj. Gen. Wilbur Mamawag to lead the Army division covering parts of Northern Mindanao and Caraga regions. (PNA photo by Nef Luczon)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – The chief of the Philippine Army declared on Thursday that territorial security would be a crucial element of the military's long-term goals.

During an interview here, Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. said efforts to strengthen territorial security had already been set in motion last year, following President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.'s declaration that "we will not give up an inch of our territory."

Brawner emphasized that one way to reinforce security measures was to equip the Army with the latest tools and facilities under the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program.

He highlighted the need for "modern mortars, cannons, and missiles" to enhance territorial security.

However, Brawner also acknowledged that territorial security would only be given full attention once conflict areas affected by the communist insurgency were resolved, and relative peace was achieved.

Change of command

Brawner presided over the change of command ceremony of the 4th Infantry Division (4ID) in Cagayan de Oro City. Maj. Gen. Jose Maria Cuerpo II succeeded Maj. Gen. Wilbur Mamawag after the latter's retirement.

Cuerpo pledged to continue the 4ID's essential programs and prioritize the morale of the units' competencies, particularly the dismantling of guerrilla fronts of the communist New People's Army (NPA) in the 4ID's area of responsibility.

"We will continue the pertinent programs (of the Army) and prioritize and promote the morale of our units' competencies," he said.

Both Cuerpo and Brawner served in the Army's 103rd Infantry Brigade and were actively involved during the Marawi City siege in 2017.

Mamawag urged the personnel and civilian staff of the 4ID to extend the same courtesy and support to Cuerpo as his successor.

He also cited the successful partnership with different sectors and the government's "whole of nation approach" in reducing NPA forces in the area. (PNA)