Flags flown at half mast to honor ex-AFP chief

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Saturday, December 14, 2013

FLAGS in all camps of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are flown at half-mast to honor former AFP Chief of Staff Delfin Bangit who passed away Friday at St. Luke's Medical Center in Quezon City.

"The AFP will render full military honors to the late General Bangit as he will be transferred from the Mortuary in Libingan ng Mga Bayani to Camp Aguinaldo on Tuesday, December 17," said AFP public affairs office chief Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala.

Zagala said Bangit had been battling an illness for the past months before he died around 5 p.m. Friday. He was 58.

The military, however, refused to disclose the cause of Bangit's death.

As the 39th AFP Chief of Staff, Zagala said Bangit directed the intensification of the campaign against the Abu Sayyaf bandits in Basilan and Sulu provinces, which resulted in the neutralization of their sub-leaders and members of the group.

"The New People's Army (NPA)'s strength was also at historic low during his leadership in 2010. For a peak of more than 25,000, they went down to less than 5,000 and their atrocious activities were confined to just five areas in the whole country," said Zagala.

Amid uncertainty caused by the first ever automated elections in May 2010, Zagala said Bangit reached out to troops as well as to civil society and religious sectors.

"He was bent at making the elections successful. He took extra effort in allaying the people's fears amid doubts on his leadership and the stand of the AFP," he said.

"Without any ambiguity, he declared his stand for the Constitution and stood up to insulate the AFP from politics," he added of Bangit who retired early after more than 36 years in the military service.

He said Bangit's experiences in combat and intelligence works helped him handle his heavier responsibilities.

Bangit, a multi-decorated soldier, served as commanding general of the Philippine Army; commander of the Southern Luzon Command; commanding general of the 2nd Infantry ("Jungle Fighter") Division based at Tanay, Rizal; the chief of the intelligence service of the AFP; the group commander of the Presidential Security Group; commanding officer of the Presidential Escort; battalion commander of 2nd Infantry ("Second to None") Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division; and company commander, Alpha Company, 2nd Infantry Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division.

Bangit became the Commanding Officer of the Vice Presidential Security Detachment of then Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo then went on to become the Commanding Officer of the Presidential Escort Battalion. It was during this time when he successfully secured the President and the first family during the "Siege of MalacaƱan" in May 1, 2001. His skill in VIP security enabled him to qualify and be assigned as the Group Commander of the Presidential Security Group.

Bangit was supposed to serve as chief of staff until July 2011 but opted for an early retirement in June 2010 after being tagged as among the midnight appointees of the previous administration months before the May 2010 presidential elections. He stepped down from his post in June 22, 2010, eight days before then senator Benigno Aquino III was sworn-in as the country's 15th President.

"The AFP is one with General Bangit's family in their hour of grief as we honor a bemedalled soldier, an officer, and a gentleman who served our nation professionally," said Zagala.

Bangit is survived by his wife Daisy, daughter Diane and sons Harold and Hector. (VR/John Carlo Cahinhinan/Sunnex)

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