WASHINGTON - Retired General Delfin Lorenzana, the incoming National Defense chief of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, plans to replicate on a national scale the counter-insurgency drive that he and Duterte used in transforming Davao City into one of the country's safest areas.
In his first media interview since confirming his Cabinet appointment, Lorenzana shared that he was the battalion commander of Davao City during Duterte's first term as mayor in the 1980s, when the number of rebels in the south had reached a peak of 26,000.
"It’s a holistic approach: talking with, convincing the barangays and the people to cooperate and work with us and report to us the activities of the insurgents. This is actually cooperation between the military, police and the local government. Maganda 'yung cooperation namin," he said.
Lorenzana only confirmed that he will again work for Duterte as the National Defense Secretary on Monday.
Although surprised by his own designation, he is confident that he is up for the job. "I was surprised really, and a little bit concerned or maybe daunted because the job is too big but I think I can do it."
Lorenzana is currently the special presidential representative for Veterans Affairs of the Philippine Embassy in Washington, U.S.
"With his experience working here in Washington DC, as a military attaché, at yung siya’y ating head of Veterans Affairs Office at the Philippine Embassy would play a crucial role in strengthening the bilateral relationship. Kasi he knows how things work here in Washington and he can be a go-between the new president and the Obama adminstration," said Eric Lachica of the U.S. Pinoys for Good Governance.
Sonny Busa, a former diplomat of the U.S. Department of State, added that Lorenzana is a "great friend of the U.S."
"If we [Filipino-American community] were to hand-pick a secretary of Defense, it would have been him. Of course, we didn’t do that but we got our wishes, so it just honors well for the future of the relationship. He’s the best man for the job," Busa said.
Chief among the issues that Lorenzana will face is the territorial dispute of China and the U.S.-backed Philippines on the South China Sea.
READ: China tells US to play constructive South China Sea role
The Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1973 had said that Lorenzana, its alumnus, will make the country's defense position stronger by rebuilding military might.