MANILA – Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff, Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, visited Pag-asa Island on Monday to uplift the morale and commend the efforts of military personnel securing its community and other areas within the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG).
“The AFP will strike a balance between mission accomplishments and looking after the morale and welfare of our men and women,” Sobejana said in a statement Wednesday as he addressed personnel manning the Naval Station Emilio Liwanag in Pag-asa Island.
He was accompanied by key officers from the AFP General Headquarters and the Western Command (Wescom) during his trip.
Sobejana noted the importance of their role in protecting the citizens of KIG and their livelihood, as well as guarding the country’s territories in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
The AFP recently deployed additional air and naval assets under the operational control of the Wescom in Palawan. This is to support the National Task Force – WPS, with the Philippine Coast Guard and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, in performing sovereignty patrols in the WPS.
Before visiting Pag-asa Island, Sobejana met with troops of the 3rd Marine Brigade to extend the AFP’s commendation for keeping Palawan peaceful, stable, and progressive.
“The 3rd Marine Brigade’s hard work and persevering efforts for the past three months have yielded significant successes that brought us closer to our goal of putting a decisive end to insurgency and terrorism in this part of the country,” he added.
Sobejana lauded the unit’s contributions in security operations, civil-military operations, stakeholder engagement, and Covid-19 mitigation efforts, which are vital to the overall mission accomplishment of Wescom and the AFP.
The 3rd Marine Brigade, with the Marine Battalion Landing Team 4, was also awarded by Sobejana with campaign streamers and a monetary reward of PHP500,000 for their successful dismantling of a New People’s Army (NPA) guerrilla unit previously operating in Palawan.
On the same day, Sobejana and Naval Forces West commander, Commodore Donn Anthony Miraflor, also visited the BRP Emilio Jacinto (PS-35), one of the many ships deployed to Wescom while docked at the Puerto Princesa City Pier.
He commended the men and women of the naval ship for continuously standing watch to ensure the sovereignty and protect the territorial integrity of the country, particularly in the WPS.
Sobejana also lauded the officers and personnel for their role in the successful rescue of 31 fishermen of M/B Pauline 2 at Nares Bank, WPS on May 24.
The province of Palawan and the KIG, dubbed as the nation’s final frontier, are challenged with both external and territorial security concerns.
The Wescom is the vanguard of the country’s western frontier and is tasked to conduct territorial and external defense operations, as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster response, within these areas of concern. (PNA)