Following the installation of Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph S Mercado as Flag Officer in Command of the Philippine Navy, Lieutenant General Raul Del Rosario of AFP took over as the 28th Commander of the Western Command, as formally officiated in a Change of Command ceremony on Monday, December 5. Vice Chief of Staff LtGen Glorioso Miranda presided over the said ceremony.
In his inaugural remarks, the new commander said that he once patrolled the West Philippines Sea (WPS) as a pilot, specifically from 1991 to 1994. He described then the WPS environment and security situation as having aerial and maritime freedom. He underscored that today as he return to be the commander, the situation has drastically changed. Nevertheless, he is determined to take the challenges of handling the WPS issue.
“As the operational commander in the area, I understand that handling the West Philippine Sea situation needs proper calculation and careful consideration of all related factors. I fully recognize the overall stance of our country as a sovereign nation and the strategic and economic importance of West Philippines Sea. I will do my very best to protect the sovereignty, territorial integrity and maritime rights of our country and fight for the best interest of our people.” he said.
LtGen del Rosario, a native of Lupao, Nueva Ecija, graduated under Maharlika Class of 1984. He previously assumed position as the 17th commander of Central command from August 11, 2016 to December 5, 2016.
Meanwhile, outgoing commander Mercado extended his gratitude to everybody who made his stint as commander from May 30 to December 2016 very challenging and memorable. He admitted having some apprehensions when he accepted the post, nevertheless, he was able to do his tasks with the help of his men and the support of local government unit and other stakeholders.
LtGen Miranda in his keynote speech lauded the sterling leadership that VADM Mercado showed during his incumbency as WesCom chief. He likewise asked the troops to give the same support they have extended to Mercado, their new commander, as they bring the Command to the new pinnacles of excellence and in securing peace and progress in WPS.
Governor Jose Chaves Alvarez, PNP Provincial director PSSUPT Roade Toambaga, PNP City Director PSSUPT Redentor Maranon, Philippine Coast Guard-Palawan Commander Commodore Joselito dela Cruz, different military officers, political and civic leaders, enlisted personnel and civilian employees witnessed the event as they welcome the newly-assumed commander.