New SAF commander: Let's be vanguards of peace
MANILA, Philippines - Chief Superintendent Moro Virgilio Lazo took command of the police Special Action Force (SAF) on Wednesday, March 4, more than a month after 44 of his comrades were killed in an operation against a terrorist in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
"I am so elated to be back home, excited to work with you again," Lazo, who joined the SAF in 1984, said in his short speech after assuming command at the SAF headquarters in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig. "I am grateful, honored and humbled to head the PNP SAF, a unit that has always been close to my heart."
Lazo called on the SAF to be "united" as they "continue to affirm our commitment to be vanguards of peace."
He ended his speech by declaring, "May the force be with us all."
Lazo is one of the few SAF commanders who rose from the ranks as a SAF commando himself. He joined the elite unit after his graduation from the Philippine Military Academy in 1984, just a few years after SAF's birth.
At the time, SAF was part of the now-defunct Philippine Constabulary, a service under the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Lazo was also a member of the Presidential Security Group during the administration of former president Fidel V. Ramos, who founded SAF. Lazo left the SAF in 1989 but returned in 2010 as its chief of directorial staff.
Force in crisis
He replaces former SAF commander Police Director Getulio Napeñas, who was relieved of his post following Mamasapano.
Napeñas has been criticized for keeping the operation a secret from PNP OIC Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina, the military, and Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II. He reported directly to the President and Purisima, who was then serving a suspension order from the Ombudsman.
The incident caused the worst political crisis for the Aquino government and put at risk the peace deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. – Rappler.com