Sobejana bows out of military service; Faustino assumes post

Maris Federez   •   August 1, 2021   •   334

MANILA, Philippines — Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Cirilito Sobejana relinquished his post in a Retirement and Change of Command Ceremony on Saturday (July 31).

An AFP statement released Saturday said Sobejana bowed out of service as he reached the mandatory retirement age of 56, after spending over 38 years in the military.

Sobejana who is a Medal for Valor recipient, has been replaced by LtGen. Jose Faustino, the current commander of the Joint Task Force Mindanao, the statement said.

“My tenure as the 55th Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines has truly been full of challenges and trials; but together with more than the 200,000-strong men and women of the AFP whose tenacity, strength, and heart have made us overcome all odds,” Sobejana said in his farewell speech.

He also expressed his respect and gratitude to all the personnel in the military forces for their invaluable service.

“I have only the highest respect and admiration for our soldiers who have, and continuously, dedicated the best years of their lives in the name of public service. Sa lahat ng sundalo ng ating Sandatahang Lakas, taas-noo at buong puso ang aking pasasalamat sa inyong walang katapat na serbisyo,” he added.

Sobejana spent most of his military career in Mindanao where he commanded different AFP units as he rose the ranks since graduating from the Philippine Military Academy in 1987.

Prior to his stint as the AFP Chief of Staff, Sobejana assumed the post of Army Commanding General and the Commander of the Western Mindanao Command.

In May 2019, President Rodrigo Duterte bestowed him the Award of Philippine Legion of Honor (Degree of Officer), for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service rendered to the Philippine government, particularly to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

He received another Philippine Legion of Honor (Degree of Chief Commander) for “laudable and meritorious conduct in the performance of his duties as the 55th Chief of Staff,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, incoming AFP Chief of Staff LtGen. Faustino called on the men and women in the military to stay united and committed to providing service to the country.

“It is my belief that the true measure of a Filipino soldier is not in the badge or rank we wear, not about the position we attain or appointed to. It is the loyalty and integrity of every man and woman serving the AFP that will keep us going in the right direction,” Faustino said.

“As I embark on this new journey with each and every one of you belonging to Team AFP, allow me to say to every soldier, airman, sailor, and marine– let us stay positive on the course ahead, bind together as one family, commit with open minds, participate actively, work towards the attainment of our shared goals, develop good ideas and innovate to suit our domain,” he added.

Prior to his designation as AFP chief, Faustino was appointed as the Commander of JTF Mindanao in June, following a successful stint as the Acting Commanding General of the Philippine Army.

A member of the Philippine Military Academy “Maringal” Class of 1988, he likewise had been Battalion and Brigade Commander in Western Mindanao particularly in Basilan and Sulu, the statement said.

Duterte asks PNP, AFP to deploy medical personnel to hospitals needing more staff

Robie de Guzman   •   September 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has asked the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to prepare for the deployment of their medical personnel to hospitals that are in need of additional manpower.

“Kung wala nang iba, ‘yung mga nurses sa pulis marami yan, pati sa medical corps ng army. I have to use a little of my influence sa kanila to convince them,” Duterte said in a taped public address aired late Wednesday.

“Please place your human resources on ready, on deck because talagang alam mo yun lang madali kong maasahan,” he added.

Duterte issued the statement after receiving reports that a lot of medical personnel, particularly in St. Luke’s Medical Center were unable to go on duty due to COVID-19 infection.

The AFP said it has started deploying a number of its personnel to some hospitals in Metro Manila as it continues look for more nurses from its ranks.

The PNP, for its part, said it is currently accounting the number of its medical teams that could be deployed to assist medical workers amid rising cases of COVID-19.

Military, police uncover NPA arms cache in Masbate

Marje Pelayo   •   September 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Government troops have seized a bulk of war materiel in Masbate province as they continue to hunt down New People’s Army (NPA) terrorists.

On Monday (September 20), government authorities received information from residents in Aroroy about the suspicious materials left behind by the communist rebels in their area.

Responding to the tip-off, elements of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) 2nd Infantry Battalion (2IB) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) immediately verified the report.

The troops were able to capture the following:
– one M16 rifle;
– two magazines;
– assorted ammunition;
– one plastic bag containing ammonium nitrate which is the primary component in making anti-personnel mines;
– a dynamite;
– one roll of detonating cord.

There were also some personal belongings along with the said arms haul.

Lt. Col. Siegfried Felipe Awichen, Battalion Commander of 2IB, hailed the vigilance of the Masbateños for the discovery of the war materiel. The public cooperation just proves that the NPA can no longer hide even their firearms.

Meanwhile, Col. Aldwine Almase, Brigade Commander of 903rd Infantry Brigade, said the capture of these firearms is a manifestation of the continuously deteriorating capabilities of the terrorist group especially in the province of Masbate.

“Iniiwan na lang nila ang mga armas nila kasi wala ng magbibitbit dahil kulang na ang kanilang mga miyembro gawa ng sunod-sunod na mass surrender sa Masbate. Muli naming pinapaalalahanan ang naiiwan pang mga miyembro ng komunistang terorista upang sila ay sumuko at magbagong buhay,” Almase said.

Police BGen. Jonnel Estomo, Regional Director of Police Regional Office 5 (PRO-5), commended the public’s support which makes the campaign of the government to make Masbate armed conflict-free attainable.

“Hindi po namin makakamit ang sunod-sunod na tagumpay na ito kung wala ang suporta ninyong mga Bicolano,” PBGen. Estomo concluded.

AFP, PNP: No terror threat in PH despite Japan warning

Robie de Guzman   •   September 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Police and military authorities on Tuesday said they have not monitored any possible terrorist threat in the country despite the warning reportedly issued by the Japanese government.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Police General Guillermo Eleazar said they have not received any report of possible terror attacks but assured that they continue to be on alert  regarding this matter.

They are also working closely with their foreign counterparts on information sharing against terrorism.

“Noon pa man ay patuloy ang aming intelligence monitoring especially after the 9/11 attack in the US and the Marawi City incident. Nananatiling maigting ang ating pakikipag-ugnayan sa ibat ibang bansa laban sa terorismo through information sharing and strategic partnership in dealing with terror groups” Eleazar said.

“Kasama dito ang pagpapalakas ng ugnayan ng inyong kapulisan sa ibat ibang komunidad at stake holders upang matiyak na hindi tayo malulusutan sa ano mang plano ng mga teroristang grupo sa ano mang lugar sa ating bansa,” he added.

Foreign media reports stated that the Foreign Ministry of Japan has issued a warning for its citizens regarding a possible terror attack in six Southeast Asian nations, including the Philippines.

The Japanese ministry advised its citizens to avoid religious facilities and crowded areas in the said countries.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), for its part, said the country’s threat level remains at “moderate” based on its last review.

The military assured it is constantly validating reports relating to national security matters.

“As of now, we have not received any report. We constantly validate all reports on security matters and it is a continuous process,” AFP spokesperson Col. Ramon Zagala said in a statement.

Aside from the Philippines, the warning issued by the Japanese government also covers Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, and Malaysia.

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