New WestMinCom chief told to be visionary in his tasks

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/21 January) – Armed Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Jessie Dellosa on Saturday told Maj. Gen. Noel Coballes to be visionary in his tasks as the new commander of the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom).

FAREWELL. Armed Forces Chief of Staff Jessie Dellosa (left) bids farewell to outgoing Western Mindanao Command Chief Lt. Gen. Raymundo Ferrer in Camp Navarro in Zamboanga City Saturday Jan. 21, 2011. Maj. Gen. Noel Coballes replaced Ferrer, who has reached the mandatory age of retirement. Ferrer will be 56 on Jan. 23. MindaNews photoDellosa made the remarks Saturday when he installed Coballes as the new WestMinCom chief replacing Lt. Gen. Raymundo Ferrer, who  bows out of the military service two days  before reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56.

Ferrer, a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) “Masikap” class of 1977, will be celebrating his 56th birthday on Monday, January 23.

“We expect much from you that you carry on the task (as the new WestMinCom chief). So don’t fail us,” Dellosa told Coballes during his speech during turnover rites at Camp Don Basilio Navarro.

Dellosa likened the turnover ceremony to renewal of commitment to duty.

It also marks a continuity of duty and the “new leader brings in new ideas,” he added.

He said they expect Coballes to carry on the torch of leadership and to continue the programs of the previous leadership.

“My instruction to him (Coballes) is just to continue what Gen. Ferrer had started,” Dellosa said in an interview after the ceremony.

Coballes said he is aware of the responsibility and great challenges of being the new WestMinCom commander.

He enjoined the support officers and men of WestMinCom in all undertakings.

“Let us work as a team,” Coballes said.

Ferrer expressed his gratitude to President Benigno Simeon Aquino III for the trust and confidence given him during his stint as WestMinCom chief.

Ferrer, who was installed to the position on November 19, 2010, was the fourth commander since WestMinCom was activated in 2006.

Ferrer’s most notable achievement is the Presidential Legion of Honor Award which he received for his “meritorious and valuable service” in the conduct of Internal Peace and Security Plan “Bayanihan” operations as the WestMinCom commander.

Ferrer is also a recipient of numerous military awards, including Distinguished Service Stars, Bronze Cross Medals, Military Merit Medals, and Military Commendation Medals.

With Ferrer at the helm, WestMinCom was able to put in the bar of justice 349 personalities who are wanted by the government, including those who surrendered and those who were apprehended; recovered 241 assorted firearms and 21 improvised explosive devices (IEDs); and seized 19 rebel camps.

A seasoned field commander, Ferrer also commanded the Eastern Mindanao Command, the 1st Infantry “Tabak” Division from September 2006 to March 2007 and the 6th Infantry “Kampilan” Division from 2007 to 2009.

Ferrer was known to give equal importance to peace building, stakeholder participation and community engagement despite spending most of his career on the battlefront.

Coballes, also a seasoned officer, is a member of the PMA “Mapitagan” class of 1980.

Coballes spent most of his career under the First Scout Ranger Regiment (FSRR) where he was honed and tested as a highly potential officer. (MindaNews)