GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/2 April) – Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao vowed to help further improve the capability of Army reserve units in Southwestern Mindanao as he formally assumed on Monday as the new commander of the area’s Army reserve force.
Pacquiao, who holds the rank of full Colonel in the Army Reserve Command (Arescom), was designated as commander of the 2203rd Ready Reserve Infantry Brigade, which covers the entire Region 12 and Maguindanao province.
He took over the post from retired reservist Lt. Col. Jaime Yangzon in a ceremony held at the 1002nd Infantry Brigade headquarters, Camp Hermigildo Agaab in Barangay Pulutana, Malungon town, Sarangani province.
The senator said he will pursue programs that would help build up the capability of over 3,000 reservists in the area.
He specifically cited trainings and related activities that would help improve the performance of reservists as support units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, especially in the conduct of medical and civic action programs.
Pacquiao rallied the region’s reservists to continue providing the best service to the country even without compensation and recognition.
He urged them to remain true to their mission and heartily accept the corresponding responsibilities as members of the reserve unit.
“As reserve force, we will wear our uniforms with dignity and honor because we’re always ready to serve and protect our land,” he said in his speech during the change-of-command ceremony.
As volunteers, Pacquiao said they are expected “to share our resources, spend our own money and even risk our lives because we truly love our country.”
Arescom commander Major Gen. Bernie Langub, who graced the event, lauded the senator for accepting the task as brigade commander of the region’s reservists.
“He will shoulder huge responsibilities in terms of improving our reserve force and make sure that they are always ready,” he said.
Pacquiao assured that he is up to the task and is now more capable being an elected government official.
“I can achieve a lot of things since I am an active senator,” the senator later told reporters.
Lt. Col. Nedy Espulgar, deputy commander of the regional community defense group, said the senator now has jurisdiction over reserve forces in five provinces in Southwestern Mindanao.
He said these are the provinces of Sarangani, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato in Region 12 and Maguindanao in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
All five provinces have active Army reserve battalions that can be tapped any time as support units of the AFP and as responders in times of disasters and other related emergency situations, he added. (MindaNews)