YOURS truly was among those pleasantly surprised to learn that good friend, former AFP chief, Gen. Ed Año, was finally sworn into office as DILG secretary by PDU30 last Monday, November 5, 2018.
I was “pleasantly surprised,” dear readers, considering that this bemedalled, humble and highly-respected friend is yet to be confirmed by the Commission on Appointments (CA) as Congress remains on recess this week.
Thus, Secretary Año, given all his qualifications, would have made another “first” insofar as the appointment process is concerned.
Previously, in my coverage of the Senate, the CA “demands” that any appointee by Malacañang (and the military) would have to first “kiss” the hands of the CA members before he/she can formally assume his/her position. This is how the CA “jealously guard” its power and prerogative insofar as its relationship with the Executive Branch is concerned.
But in the case of Sec. Año, nobody among the CA members is complaining considering the immensity of his contributions to our country and our republic as an officer of the Armed Forces from his junior years and onwards to his retirement as AFP chief. In other words, his “post-facto” confirmation is also an endorsement of their “gratitude” for all he has done as a public servant.
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As a “correspondent covering for several years the Calabarzon (and the Solcom/AFP) beat for this paper, I never thought that in the end, I would somehow be in the “unique position” of getting to know many junior and middle-level military officials who would, one day, become the “top brass” of the AFP and the Philippine Army.
In particular, I cite the members of the PMA’s ‘Matikas Class’ of 1983, which has achieved a record achievement of “producing” 4 AFP ‘Chief of Staff’ -- Gen. Hernando ‘Dodo’ DCA Iriberri, Gen. Glorioso Miranda (AFP vice chief of staff and acting AFP chief for more than two months), Ricardo ‘Bong’ Visaya (now the head of the National Irrigation Administration) and yes, Gen. Ed Año.
Except for Gen. Miranda, yours truly only have fond memories to share with his other ‘mistahs,’ as all of them spent some of their years at Solcom, which, at the time, is the military’s “main effort” against the CPP-NPA.
But for Gen. Año in particular, he is among, if not, the most, humble and “low-profile” military official any member of the press would get to meet. And the most amazing character trait in him that I truly admire is that, he remains “the same” -- humble and low profile.
For it is true, dear readers. The common observation that veteran journalists get to notice as any police and military officer rose from the ranks is that, they “change.”
Nagbabago ang ugali. Nagiging “mayabang” at “suplado,” tama ba, mga “kapatid” na mamamahayag d’yan sa QCPDPC, hehehe!
But not Gen. Año. Back during the time when he was about to be confirmed as AFP chief by the CA, he even told his staff, on seeing me at the Senate, that we’ve known each other back when both of us are still “eating sardines” for lunch, hahaha!
And only two weeks ago, when I covered the DILG budget hearing and whispered to him that his CA confirmation as DILG secretary is already “assured,” he commented that, “kahit hindi naman tayo ma-confirm, okay lang.
“Nakahanda naman tayong maglingkod sa kahit anong posisyon.” Such is the humility of this man, dear readers.
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But of course, not everybody is “glad” that Gen. Año continues to be a public servant.
I am referring, of course, to the “militant bloc” and those from the CPP-NPA leadership who never tires of “branding” him -- and Gen. Bong Visaya -- as a “fascist” and a “berdugo,” in the same mold as the military official they love to hate all these years, Gen. Jovy Palparan.
But as I also loved to tell them, “galit lang kayo kay Gen. Año kasi lahat ng lider ninyo, siya ang nakahuli,” hahaha!
For remember dear readers that it was largely thru the intelligence operations launched by Gen. Año in the last 10 years at least, that led to the arrest, wholesale and piecemeal, of nearly all the top leaders of the CPP-NPA.
As I also jokingly reminded friends in the militant bloc, they should be “happy” that Gen. Año had rounded up -- and alive too -- all the top leaders of the CPP-NPA!
Asked why, I retorted they can now hold a meeting of the executive committee of the CPP-NPA-NDF any time they want, albeit “behind bars,” hahaha!
Indeed, if only for this fact, that the focused intelligence operations he had launched resulted to the arrests of its leadership -- and the weakening -- of the CPP-NPA armed struggle, all of us should be grateful. That campaign has ensured their march towards irrelevance.
Still, his effort to finally bring peace all over the land never ended there, right dear readers?
For as fate would have it, Gen. Año, was preparing for an “early retirement” last year as AFP chief (a decision he confided to me) when the ISIS/Maute terrorist group descended on the city of Marawi in May 2017, claiming they want to carve a “caliphate” in Mindanao but actually, to protect their extensive and lucrative illegal drug trade.
It was Gen. Año’s military leadership -- and Pres. Duterte’s political leadership -- that ensure our country would not be plunged into months, if not years, of continuing political destabilization that would have drained, in the process, our national resources and fracture further our always fragile national unity -- to the delight of the enemies of peace.
In other words, if anyone wants to find a reason why we all continue to sleep soundly at night and why the enemies of our liberty and way of life continue to fail in their effort, just “think” of one name: Gen. Ed Año.
Oops! Isama na rin pala natin siyempre si Pang. Duterte, ang “totoong presidente” ng lahat ng Pilipino, hehehe!
And so, as Gen. Año now takes full control of the DILG, rest assured, dear readers, that this department is headed for “change,” in the truest sense of the word.