Aquino names new Army chief, NFA head



Philippine President Benigno Aquino III. AP

President Aquino will preside over the turnover of command in the Army’s top post Tuesday afternoon at the Army headquarters, a day after appointing the new Army chief, who led a Scout Rangers unit in several military operations against the Abu Sayyaf bandits in Mindanao.

Lt. Gen. Noel Coballes will take over from Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista as Army commanding general in a change of command ceremony at the Army Grandstand in Fort Bonifacio in Taguig at around 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Other appointments:

  • Orlan A. Calayag, a 38-year-old businessman from the United States, was appointed National Food Authority (NFA) administrator on Jan. 17, replacing Lito Banayo who resigned late last year amid the controversy over rice smuggling into the country.
  • Ma. Teresa de Guzman was named acting deputy director of the Science Education Institute under the Department of Science and Technology.
  • Alexander Ayco, Jane Sta. Ana and Francisco Vicente Lopez were reappointed members of the board of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. from July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013.

Before his appointment, Coballes, a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1980, was AFP vice chief of staff, and before that, commanding general of the Western Mindanao Command.

Bautista formally assumed the post of Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff in turnover rites presided over by Mr. Aquino in Camp Aguinaldo last Thursday.

Seasoned combat officer

The military welcomed the appointment of Coballes.

“General Coballes is a seasoned combat officer. Most of his assignments in the field [were in Mindanao]. He has gone through command positions in infantry units and also in the Scout Rangers as regiment commander,” the AFP spokesperson, Col. Arnulfo Burgos Jr., told reporters.

“He is a battle-hardened soldier. Since most of his assignments were in the field, we can say he has been in touch with our soldiers [on the ground]. He spent 14 years of his career in Mindanao,” he added.


Burgos expressed confidence that Coballes would continue to implement the Army’s development programs, particularly the Army Transformation Roadmap, initiated by his predecessors.

“The Philippine Army will pick up pace under General Coballes,” he said.

A native of Tuguegarao City, Cagayan, Coballes first saw action in Mindanao as platoon leader of the Army’s 26th Infantry Battalion before he was designated to lead the line companies of the 2nd Scout Rangers Battalion.

Coballes was also tasked with heading four different Task Group Panthers, which supervised the elite Scout Rangers unit in running after Moro rebels and bandits in Mindanao.

Abu Sayyaf’s nemesis

A news release from the Army said Coballes headed the Scout Rangers in launching successful military offensives against the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan in 1995.

“[He] was credited for the neutralization of several Abu Sayyaf terrorists who were responsible for the kidnapping of civilians in the area,” the statement read.

“He personally led his unit in many decisive battles, earning him the admiration and respect by his peers and subordinates,” it added.

For his stint in Maguindanao, Coballes was awarded twice with the Distinguished Conduct Star, the second highest combat medal for bravery in the military.

He also received three Distinguished Service Stars, five Gold Cross Medals for gallantry in action, two Bronze Cross Medals and several military merit medals.

Alcala’s former aide

Calayag hails from Dolores, Quezon and is a former chief of staff of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala during his first term as congressman of Quezon.

“He has my trust. I knew him personally … and I worked with him during my first term as congressman,” Alcala told reporters on Monday.

Alcala, a two-term congressman of Quezon’s second district before he was picked to lead the agriculture department, recommended Calayag to the President.



Alacala described the new NFA administrator as a “balikbayan” whom he had convinced to go back and serve.

Calayag held various positions in the private sector in the United States. He was a former patient services specialist at Swedish Medical Center in Washington after he served as auditor of Bellevue Sheraton Hotel, loan officer of the Bank of America, and relationship manager of KeyBank.

The new NFA head was also executive director of the Progressive Community and Ecological Services Organization, a nongovernment organization helping farmers, fisherfolk, the youth, women and other sectors in the areas of livelihood, job generation and environmental protection.

During his oath-taking at the agriculture department’s headquarters on Monday, Calayag promised that he would ensure that the country’s food security was protected and the prices of rice and corn were stable to benefit both the farmers and consumers.

To do that, Calayag said he would ask for the trust and cooperation of every NFA employee, which are crucial to a more aggressive palay procurement operations.

He also hoped to upgrade the status of NFA as a government-owned and -controlled corporation.

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  • Weder-Weder Lang

    In the senate inquiry last year, it has been established that the former NFA head Lito Banayo had been involved in rice smuggling. By granting special approval for large volume of rice imports to certain cooperatives handpicked by Lito Banayo, the disgraced NFA head made quite a fortune. In Dec 2012, Lito Banayo was asked to testify in the senate hearings. All of sudden, Lito Banayo became ill due to inexplicable heart ailment and had to be confined in Philippine Heart Center. He was too ill to attend the senate hearings but not ill enough to be standing on his two feet while talking on the phone with his lawyers as attested to by the nurses and hospital staff who had to check up on him every so often. Yet, for all the evidence laid bare by the senate, Ombudsman Conchita has chosen to look the other way. The prosecution of Lito Banayo may have to wait until after 2016. Ombudsman Conchita’s dereliction of duty will be grounds for her impeachment should the next administration see to her removal.

    Ganun ba talaga kapag kaibigan ka ni PNoy? Lantaran na selective justice. Another blow to this administration’s credibility.

    • jurbinsky77

      Is Banayo a friend of President Aquino?

      • Weder-Weder Lang

        Yes, Banayo even campaigned for PNoy in 2010 hoping to get something in return. Judging by his newfound wealth derived from rice smuggling, his efforts certainly paid off.

  • batangpaslit

    iba talaga pag may “whom you know ka”

  • Garo Ungaro

    its an eye opener, AFP budget must focus on the Navy/Coast Guards/Airforce, ship procurement
    development of ship building and training of good sailors/pilots…7000 island to patrol and protect
    a small crack mechanized/air cavalry groups is better than a big army…time to do it…?

  • batangsulpok

    Status quo pa rin ang PA dahil sila-sila rin ang nakaupo sa puwesto, mga PMAers kaya mistah-mistah sila, kaniya-kaniyang takipan ng baho.  Isang example ay noong panahon ni General Garcia na siya ang AFP Comptroller na halos unit commanders ay mga mistah niya kaya madaling pirmahan ang mga allotments kahit na ang pera ay na kay Garcia.

    • Benjamin Brillantes

      sagot dyan….magkaroon ng academy ang army airforce at navy at paramihin ang quota sa direct com or ocs…. lahat pma lahat kanila nakaw

  • johnnie r

    Ano na ang nangyari sa imbestigasyon sa anomalya kay BANAYO??? Malamang lusot na ito…batang PING na kadikit ni PNOY…hay buhay. Talagang weder-weder lang ang lahat.

    • VeryDisgusted2

       Kaya “Tuwid Na Daan” is so disgusting.

      We have a long list of plunderers, yet they are untouched, unprosecuted, and travelling in and out the country – Mike Arroyo, Abalos, Lacson, Dumlao, Marantan, fertilizer scams’ Bolante & Lorenzo, Pagcor plunderers, GSIS plunderers, Comelec manipulators, PCSO plunderers, AFP plunderers, etc.

      Are the mouths of prosecutors, judges, police, politicians, media stuffed with money that they became dis-interested to send these plunderers to prison? If Noynoy cannot prosecute and send these plunderers to prison, at least he should focus all government machinery to send Gloria Arroyo & Fat Mike, the masterminds of all plunderers and grafters to prison or to be subjected to lethal injection.

      Noynoy should not be proud of his Tuwid na Daan.

  • disqusted0fu

    Whatever happened to Mr. Banayo and his alleged involvement in rice smuggling? He’s absolved now? And while I’m at it, what also happened to Rico Puno and his alleged involvement in jueteng? Classic case of a kkk? No investigations, no prosecutions, just immediate absolution?

  • bandit88

    “Calayag held various positions in the private sector in the United States. He was a former patient services specialist at Swedish Medical Center in Washington after he served as auditor of Bellevue Sheraton Hotel, loan officer of the Bank of America, and relationship manager of KeyBank.” >>> and that makes him the NFA Administrator? wala na bang pwede sa RP? with due respect, that appointment, even if political, is a JOKE! 

    • Pio Gante

      i assume that mr. calayag, due to his long stay in the us is already a citizen of that country or have dual (fil-am) citizenship.

      for national security purposes, there ought to be a law banning from being elected and appointed to gov’t  positions for those who have already renounced their phil. citizenship and acquired another one. have dual passports, have married foreigners (especially in the security services) and even to those who have permanent residency status in other countries.

      questionable loyalty, yun ang dahilan. dahil in the end, pag nabulilyaso sila, doon sila tatakbo.

  • Pio Gante

    congratulations, mr noel,

    naffatu ti inafi!!!

  • Benjamin Brillantes

    class 80 sasaludo sa class 81… kung may respeto sa sarili o deligadeza mag retire na sana ang mga 79 at 80 sa military. para ma maniobra na maigi ang apf ni bote..mangingiral ang tigas ng ulo ng mga senior officers..ganyan ang ugali ng filipino…ayaw pa under…sasabihin…MAMATIKATA…

    • batangsulpok

      Hindi sila mag-retire dahil nag-iipon pa, isa pa, pabandying-bandying ang trabaho, buhay mayaman lalo na at Heneral.

  • boybakal

    Patient services specialist….does it mean to say caregiver.
    Alam nyo naman sa states, laging maganda ang tunog.

  • agustin

    Banayo is a close ally of Lacson, having been a planner,director and trainer for the Witness Academy of Lacson, Banayo is the no.1 corrupt in Pnoy’s administration  but set free, and senate’s schedule of investigation for rice smugling was scrapped due to the strong opposition of Lacson. baluktot na daan is also implemented at the Phil. Senate.

  • Edgardo Mendoza


  • Jaime

    Philippines, all I can say is goodluck and may god bless you because with all this people in the government …you are hopeless!!!

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