WesCom gets new commander
THE MILITARY’S Western Command (WesCom), which is mandated to defend the hotly contested West Philippine Sea portion of the South China Sea, has a new chief.
Rear Adm. Ronald Joseph Mercado assumed his new assignment as WesCom commander on Monday, replacing acting Brig. Gen. Elvin Hermogino.
Hermogino temporarily led the command since April 29 following the retirement of Vice Adm. Alexander Lopez.
Mercado, a member of Philippine Military Academy “Matikas” Class of 1983, will lead the military’s efforts in protecting the West Philippine Sea where China has aggressively expanded its claims.
Lt. Gen. Glorioso Miranda, acting chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, led the change of command ceremony on Monday at WesCom headquarters in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.
Prior to his latest appointment, Mercado was commander of the Philippine Fleet under the Philippine Navy. He will still lead the Philippine Fleet in concurrent capacity until his replacement is named.
Hermogino will continue at his old post as WesCom deputy commander for operations. Both Mercado and Hermogino were classmates at the PMA.
The WesCom is in charge of security for Palawan and the Kalayaan group of islands, as well as the disputed waters of the West Philippine Sea. This includes the Spratly islands and Scarborough Shoal off the coast of Zambales.
Command at Sea badge
Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, AFP spokesperson, said Mercado had been serving in the military with distinction and has earned his Command at Sea badge.
“He is considered among the most seasoned officers in the Philippine Navy,” Padilla said.
During the change of command ceremony, Miranda lauded WesCom for successfully securing the national and local elections on May 9.
He noted that Palawan was among the most peaceful election areas, which experienced no election-related incidents on that day.
Miranda urged WesCom “to work tirelessly as a joint team in accomplishing their mandated mission in partnership with all stakeholders” and to “ensure continuity of effort, cohesive synergy and effort in pursuing national interests.”
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