ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/20 January) – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has named a new commander for the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) based in this city.
Named as Westmincom chief is First Infantry “Tabak” Division commander Maj. Gen. Noel Coballes.
Coballes will replace Lt. Gen. Raymundo Ferrer, who was appointed as Westmincom chief on November 19, 2010.
Westmincom spokesperson Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang said the turnover of command ceremony is set to be held Saturday, as Ferrer is bowing out of military service two days ahead of his 56th birthday, the mandatory retirement age, on Monday.
Ferrer, a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) “Masikap” class of 1977, is the fourth commander since Westmincom was activated in 2006.
Ferrer received the Presidential Legion of Honor Award for his “meritorious and valuable service” in the conduct of Internal Peace and Security Plan Bayanihan operations as the Westmincom commander.
He is also a recipient of numerous military awards including Distinguished Service Stars, Bronze Cross Medals, Military Merit Medals, and Military Commendation Medals.
In his stint as Westmincom chief, Ferrer was instrumental in the prosecution of 349 wanted persons who either surrendered or were arrested, recovery of 241 assorted firearms and 21 improvised explosive devices, and seizure of 19 enemy camps.
He has also served as commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command, the 1st Infantry Division from September 2006 to March 2007 and the 6th Infantry Division from 2007 to 2009.
Ferrer portrayed himself as a peacemaking general by engaging local communities and groups in dialogues.
Coballes, on the other hand, is a member of the PMA “Mapitagan” class of 1980.
He spent most of his career as a junior officer under the First Scout Ranger Regiment (FSRR).
Coballes will be installed as the fifth commander of Westmincom by AFP Chief-of-Staff General Jessie Dellosa in a ceremony to be held at Camp Don Basilio Navarro, this city. (MindaNews)