Major General Paul Atal has been tasked to take over as commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Central Command (AFP-CentCom) replacing Lt. General Oscar Lactao who is set for retirement.
AFP Chief of Staff General Rey Leonardo Guerrero on Friday led the change of command and retirement ceremony for Lactao at the CentCom Grandstand inside Camp Lapu-Lapu in Cebu City.
Lactao will officially be retiring on Monday at the age of 56, the mandatory retirement age for police and military personnel.
He led the CentCom, the Visayas segment of the AFP Unified Command, in battling the 10-man Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) unit which infiltrated Bohol in mid-April.
Guerrero commended Lactao for his successes which included the swift neutralization of the ASG in Bohol.
Meanwhile, Atal issued a directive to the CentCom to maintain alertness against possible offensive operations by the New People’s Army which has been tagged by President Duterte as a terrorist group along with the Communist Party of the Philippines including its political arm, the National Democratic Front.
Atal said that he will maintain coordination with local government units as part of efforts to secure the Visayas from any threat.
He also vowed to support law enforcement agencies in carrying out the government’s war on narcotics trade.
Atal, who is part of the Philippine Military Academy “Maharlika” Class of 1984, was a “mistah” (classmate) of Guerrero, Police Director General Augusto Marquez and former Police Regional Office 7 Director Chief Supt. Noli Taliño.
Atal was previously the commander of the Philippine Army’s 5th Division based in Gamu, Isabela before being promoted as CentCom commander. (rt)