President Benigno Aquino III on Monday said his appointment of Lieutenant General Jessie Dellosa as Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff was “timely,” especially when the country has to prepare for external threats stemming from the tension in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Speaking after Dellosa assumed his new post, Mr. Aquino said he knew Dellosa personally for almost 30 years now since the latter had served under his mother, the late President Corazon Aquino.
Dellosa had been a junior aide-de-camp to Cory Aquino and had also served in the Presidential Security Group that protected her administration during several coup attempts.
“He is a true warrior,” the President said of Dellosa, noting how the latter had so many uniforms “punctured with holes from the many medals he has gotten.”
Marveling at Dellosa’s bravery in the field, the President recalled an incident in Jolo province years ago when the Army general was injured from a blast.
He said Dellosa took out shrapnel that lodged into his face, using his bare hands.
The President said he had “complete faith” that Dellosa would be able to continue a principled and honest leadership.
“For General Dellosa, do not turn your back on the mandate of the people,” he said.
Mr. Aquino said his administration was behind Dellosa “in any fight that the Armed Forces needed to engage in.”
Noting as “timely” the change in the AFP leadership, Mr. Aquino said this was because “now we need to prepare for external threats, especially when there are forces wanting to possess territories that from the very start are ours.”
The Philippines, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei claim all or part of the Spratly Islands in the West Philippines Sea. Most of the claimants have a presence on some of the other islands in the Spratlys to help boost their positions.
Mr. Aquino said he was confident the country could now focus on strengthening its defense from external threats because peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and other armed groups were moving forward.
Procurement of arms
The President said he would make sure the procurement of arms and other military equipment as well as quality uniforms, bullets, vehicles and other needs of the military would be done properly.
He also said that a second Hamilton cutter for the Philippine Navy was coming soon.
He thanked newly retired AFP Chief of Staff General Eduardo Oban Jr., for serving the country.
The President said that when he appointed Oban he did not know him personally but was nevertheless impressed with him and his job well done.
In Central Luzon, Josefina Timoteo, director of the Office of Civil Defense in the region, said the AFP was in good hands with Dellosa at the helm.
“He is a smart (person). We conducted air reconnaissance during Typhoon ‘Pedring’ and flooding in Central Luzon. He immediately provided the chopper requirements in Bulacan on Sept. 30 and personally participated in the distribution of relief goods in Pampanga and Bulacan,” Timoteo said.
Colonel Gregorio Pio Catapang, chief of the Army’s 703rd Infantry Brigade, a unit under the Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) that Dellosa led, described the new AFP chief of staff as “a good commander, down to earth and focused on the job, deliberate and meticulous.”
Bajun Lacap, who led some 500 families at the coast of Masantol, Pampanga province, to safety during the flooding in September, said he was not surprised that Dellosa would be chosen by Mr. Aquino as the new chief of staff.
“He’s kindhearted. He coordinated relief operations in our area after he learned that relief packs intended for us did not reach us,” Lacap said.
In Isabela province, Major General Rommel Gomez, commander of the Army’s 5th ID, said Dellosa was a worthy choice, citing his commendations and combat and leadership awards. With reports from Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon, and Villamor Visaya Jr., Inquirer Northern Luzon