DAVAO CITY — Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio took in a new commander of the Task Force Davao, replacing Col. Erwin Bernard Neri who is promoted as the commanding officer of an Army brigade based in Maco, Compostela Valley.
During the turnover ceremony on Wednesday at the Task Force headquarters at Sta. Ana Wharf, this city, Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio challenged the army officer to: “bawal huminga…bawal matulog..at huwag mo akong ipahiya (it’s forbidden to breathe..forbidden to sleep…and don’t shame me).”
The “bawal huminga…bawal matulog” is the same challenge passed on to him by Neri, who took the position as the chief of the 1001st Infantry Brigade in Compostela Valley.
Neri admitted this was the challenge to him by Duterte-Carpio in order not to repeat the bombing incident at Roxas night market in September last year.
In her speech, the city mayor told Mempin to consider “huwag mo akong ipahiya” as the challenge, recalling the September bombing last year. She said she would blame Mempin if something happens in Davao City under his command.
Duterte-Carpio reminded Mempin to be on his toes and see to it that the people of Davao can safely sleep at night.
“If I see you offline that means you are sleeping,” she told Mempin.
She admitted Mempin was not her recommended officer to replace Neri. “Someone has recommended you, but I vetted you,” she said.
The city mayor even joked that she is eight weeks pregnant just to taunt Mempin to keep the city secure, recalling that she lost her twins after the September bombing
She revealed that she kept sending photos of the ultrasound result of the third baby to Neri as reminder not to stress her to keep the baby alive.
Given the tall order, Duterte-Carpio, however, assured Mempin of the city government’s support so that he can achieve his objective, particularly on anti-terrorism.
In an interview, Mempin said that all units of the Philippine Army, including the Task Force Davao should make sure there is zero incident.
“Even if it is only one bombing, it is a failure of counter terrorism,” Mempin said. He added he is honored the city mayor vetted him as TF commander.
He said he has a sworn duty to ensure the safety and protection of the people and the state.
Being in the Army, he said, “You give up everything for service”. If Neri took the challenge to prevent and counter terrorism, Mempin said he is also ready with the tips given to him by the former TF commander.
Mempin said Neri advised him to strengthen intelligence network, stronger stakeholder engagement, and visibility of soldiers in order not to be caught unaware.
“We can rest but not literally sleep on your duty,” he added.
Mempin, a graduate of the Philippine Mlitary Academy (PMA) Class 1990, was a brigade staff. He was the chief of Governance and Strategy Management Office of the 10th Division.
He was also the former battalion commander in Cebu where he was involved in counter-terrorism for two years.
Meanwhile, Duterte-Carpio rated Neri’s assignment 10+1 and adopted him as godfather of Stonefish.
She also thanked the TF Davao for their passion and discipline.