CATBALOGAN CITY, Oct. 7 (PNA) — The 8th Infantry Division, the mother unit of the Philippine Army in Eastern Visayas, has welcomed Brig. Gen. Raul M Farnacio on Thursday as their new commander.

Farnacio replaces Maj. Gen. Jet B Velarmino, who retired from the military service after serving the military for 34 years and served as 8th ID commanding general for three years from September 2013 until October 6.

Farnacio was the chief of the Army Internal Audit before assuming the post. Prior to this assignment, Farnacio also commanded the 901st Brigade in Bicol Region, served as executive officer of the 43rd Infantry Battalion and the 801st Brigade, and later as commanding officer of the 20th Infantry Battalion and 43rd Infantry Battalion.

He also became the assistant chief of staff for intelligence of the 7th Infantry Division and chief of the unified command staff, central command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

In his message, Farnacio emphasized the need for soldiers in Eastern Visayas to have more ascendancy and support the programs of their commander-in-chief.

“If we expect to achieve in our mission to bring peace and progress, we need to make ourselves worthy implementers, therefore I enjoined the brigade, battalion and even company commanders to be on the forefront of moral ascendancy in your respective units,” Farnacio said.

The new commander also called on government troops in the region to support the programs of the president in extending peace to the communist rebels as well as the problem brought about by criminality, illegal drugs and terrorism.

“We have to intensify our cooperation with local government units, agencies and stakeholders from the public and private sector to help the local insurgents return to the peace table and talk with our partners in the government to bring an end to these decades of insurgency,” he added.

He then reminded members of the Philippine Army to never use illegal drugs or even engaging in drug related activities.

Lt. Gen. Eduardo M. Año, the Commanding General of the Philippine Army, who preside over the Change of Command Ceremony during his message re-echoes what Farnacio said on peace talks and illegal drugs.

“We will abide by the unilateral ceasefire and support the on-going peace talk and while we do this, we will ensure to intensify our preparedness in protecting communities against any threat,” Año said.

The official assured the support of the Philippine Army in the campaign against illegal drugs and criminality. “Soldiers who are found guilty in illegal activities will face consequences while those who are faithful to their duty will receive reward.”

In his message, Velarmino expressed gratitude to the people who work with him in his three years duty as commanding general.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Lt. General Ricardo Visaya also graced the change of command.

Other guests who graced the ceremony are Northern Samar Governor Jose Ong; former Interior and

Local Government Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento, who heads the Philippine Army Multi-Sectoral Advisory Board; Guiuan, Eastern Samar Mayor Christopher Sheen Gonzalez; Philippine National Police Regional Director Elmer Beltejar and representatives from stakeholders of military in the region. (PNA)