THE new Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)-Central Command (CentCom) chief vowed to go after the communist insurgents.

Major General Paul Atal, Centcom acting commander, in a speech told his troops to stay alert for possible attacks by the New People's Army (NPA) rebels, following the termination of peace talks and declaration of President Rodrigo Duterte naming the NPA as terrorist group.

Atal replaced Liutenant General Oscar Lactao on Wednesday afternoon, December 8, in a turnover ceremony in Camp Lapu-Lapu in Cebu City.

He said he will continue coordinating with local governments to secure the Visayas region from any threat.

Atal promised CentCom will continue supporting the police and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in the war on illegal drugs.

General Rey Leonardo Guerrero, the AFP chief of staff, presided the event, which also served as Lactao's retirement ceremony.

Guerrero, in his speech, congratulated Lactao for his successful stint as Centcom commander. Lactao led his personnel in crushing the 11 Abu Sayyaf Group straddlers in Bohol last April.

Lactao next week will turn 56, the mandatory retirement age for the military and police officials.

"Malungkot ko na akoy mag-retire na, pero masaya ako kasi pupunta na ako sa DBM. Hindi Department of Budget and Management ha. Driver, bodyguard ni misis," he quipped, drawing laughter from the audience.

Lactao is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Maharlika Class of 1984. Some of his classmates were Guerrero, Police Director General Augusto Marquez Jr., and former Police Regional Office-Central Visayas Director Noli Taliño. (KAL/SunStar Cebu)