Aquino celebrates PSG’s 30th founding anniversary
President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday joined the Presidential Security Group (PSG) as it celebrated its 30th founding anniversary.
The PSG was first formed in March 1, 1986, under the administration of former President Corazon Aquino, as a separate support unit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. It replaced the Presidential Security Command as the group dedicated for the security of the president and his family.
In his speech, the President recalled how the PSG is very different from the military personnel during the regime of former president Ferdinand Marcos.
He said the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the then Presidential Security Command seemed to have served as a private army of the president.
“Noong mga panahong iyon, kumbinsido ako, mayroon nang maitim na balak laban sa aking ama (At that time, I was convinced, that there was a threat to the life of my father),” he said as he narrated how the Aviation Security Command head personally met his family to report that they have various plans on how to secure his father, former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.
Ninoy’s assassination brought about a surge in the protests against Marcos. It is said to have been one of the pivotal events that led to the Edsa People Power Revolt and the election of his wife, the late Corazon Aquino.
“Kita naman po ninyo ang malaking pagkakaiba ng Presidential Security Command ni Ginoong Marcos, at ng Presidential Security Group na itinatag ng aking ina, at pinamunuan ng dating Col. Voltaire Gazmin matapos ng Edsa,” Aquino said.
(You can see the big difference of the Presidential Security Command under Mr. Marcos and the Presidential Security Group created by my mother, and led by then Col. Voltaire Gazmin after Edsa.)
However, he said the beginnings of the PSG was not easy. They lacked the equipment, Aquino said, recalling that even his mother’s close-in security resorted to pretending that he had a firearm by carrying a bottle wrapped in towel.
He said the PSG members’ principles were also tested, especially during the series of coup d’etat launched by military men against his mother
“Sa mga panahong iyon ng matinding tensyon, napatunayan nga ninyo ang mga katagang mga sinabi ng aking ina sa kauna-unahan ninyong anibersaryo: ‘The Armed Forces as a whole are the shield and sword of the Republic, but the Presidential Security Group has been the breastplate protecting the Heart of the Republic,’” he said.
(During that time of heightened tension, you were able prove what my mother said during your first anniversary: “The Armed Forces as a whole are the shield and sword of the Republic, but the Presidential Security Group has been the breastplate protecting the Heart of the Republic.”)
Aquino said he himself had witnessed the PSG’s professionalism when he had to fly to Mindanao in 2013 to personally oversee the operations during the Zamboanga Siege.
At that time, the PSG’s group commander, Raul Ubando, has just been appointed.
“Sa kabila nito, matagumpay ang naging pagmando at pagbabantay natin — at ang mga aksyon natin sa mga lugar ng bakbakan,” he said.
(Despite this, they were successful in securing me — and my movements in areas where fighting was ongoing.)
He said Ubando expressed his hesitation when Aquino said he wanted to go to the stadium where evacuees were staying.
Aquino, however, insisted that he needed to be at the forefront of the operations.
“Kailangan tayo ng ating mga kababayan. Kailangan makita nila na hindi sila nag-iisa. Gawin mo ang kaya mong gawin. Bahala na ang Diyos sa atin at sa hindi natin kaya,” he told Ubando.
(The people needs us. They need to see that they are not alone. Do what you need to do. Let the Lord deal with the rest.)
Ubanda immediately said “Yes.” Aquino said he was impressed that the PSG commander did not even argue with him because he knew that he needed to do what was expected of him.
Aquino, who is always shadowed by PSG members, said the group has always ensured his safety.
He lauded them for not abusing their position.
For this, he said the PSG should always remember that they are part of change and that their work has helped bring change in the country.
Aquino thanked the group profusely, adding that they treated him not only as their commander-in-chief but also as friend and family.
At one point, the president recalled the contributions of former PSG members, including his close-in security detail, Bong Fuyonan, who died last year due to pancreatic cancer.
“Nasaan ka man ngayon, tiyak kong binabantayan mo pa kaming lahat at maraming, maraming salamat sa’yo,” he said.
(Wherever you are, I am sure you are watching over us. Thank you very much.)
During the event, Aquino witnessed a capability demo, parade and review and the presentation of troops.
Together with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and PSG Rear Adm. Raul Ubando, Aquino gave out special awards and plaques of recognition to members of the PSG.
The awardees are as follows:
- Col. William A. Alunday (GSC) PA – Presidential Legion of Honor Awards (Degree of Legionnaire)
- Col. Rosalito G. Martires (PSC) PA – Presidential Legion of Honor Awards (Degree of Legionnaire)
- Cdr. Edwin M. Nera (GSC) PN – Presidential Medal of Merit
- Maj. Xavier C. Celestial, PA – Outstanding Achievement Medal
- Lt. Col. Edralin L. Poblete, PA – Organic Officer of the Year
- Maj. Chester D. Guazon, PAF – Operationally Controlled (OpCon) Officer of the Year
- TSG. Jose M. Fulay Jr., PA – Organic Enlisted Personnel
- TSG Deoderick L. Rigon, PA – OpCon Enlisted Personnel of the Year
- Dr. Catherine S. Bellen – Civilian Employee of the Year
- SPO3 Jaime B. Castro, close-in food tester of the President – Plaque of Appreciation
- LTC Elizabeth V. Sanchez, voluntary close-in doctor of the President – Plaque of Appreciation
Gazmin was appointed first PSG commander at a time when the government was still reeling from the downfall of the Marcos regime. Ubando, meanwhile, is the first Navy officer to become PSG group commander.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.