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DND welcomes new heads in WPS frontlines



The Department of National Defense (DND) welcomed the appointment of new commanders of military units tasked to oversee security in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Major General Ernesto Torres Jr. and Rear Admiral Alberto Carlos will take over as commanders of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Northern Luzon Command (NolCom) and Western Command (WesCom), respectively.

“Those commands of the AFP are tasked with protecting the country’s northern and western frontiers,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said.

The DND chief also confirmed the assumption of Maj. Gen. Nestor Herico as the commandant of the Marine Corps.

Much like NolCom and WesCom, the Marines are playing part in the country’s external defense, with some of them deployed to the country’s far-flung territories.

The corps was also tasked to be the primary user of the country’s first-ever shore-based anti-ship missile system which the government is acquiring from India.

“These appointments speak of the integrity of the selection system of the AFP, given the outstanding performance and extensive experience of these officers that made them earn the trust of the AFP Board of Generals and the approval of the President,” AFP spokesperson Col. Ramon Zagala said.

Torres will be coming to NolCom from the Army’s 10th Infantry Division (ID), which oversees military operations in the Davao region.

His new appointment took effect on 7 January, a day after troops under the 10th ID killed Menandro Villanueva alias “Bok,” a high-ranking official of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army.

Carlos, a brother of the incumbent National Police chief, will be heading to WesCom after leading the Philippine Fleet in a massive relief operation for people affected by typhoon “Odette.”

The operation, which is still ongoing, saw Carlos order the reactivation of some already-decommissioned naval ships and mobilize civilian vessels so the Fleet can maintain a balance between maritime patrols and relief efforts.

Meanwhile, the AFP announced that Maj. General William Gonzales and RAdm. Rommel Anthony Reyes will be taking over as the military’s inspector general and deputy chief of staff, respectively.

Gonzales will be coming in from the Army’s 11th ID, which is in the frontlines of the fight against Islamic militants in Sulu.