AFP Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Bartolome "Bob" Bacarro (left) and Vice Adm. Alberto Carlos (right) unveil WESCOM's Strategy Map for its transformation journey for Base Camp 2023-2028 on November 15, 2022. | Photo from WESCOM Public Affairs Office

Lieutenant General Bartolome “Bob” Bacarro has commended the Western Command’s (WESCOM) progress toward achieving an “insurgency-free” Palawan during his first official visit as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff.

Bacarro, who visited on Tuesday, praised the organization after WESCOM commander Vice Adm. Alberto Carlos briefed him on their internal and external accomplishments.

“Congratulations, Team WESCOM for paving the way, together with stakeholders, towards an insurgency-free Palawan,” Bacarro said.

In October 2019, WESCOM and other armed forces and police units in the province arrested seven suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) and the surrender of its high ranking official.

They were  Jenny Ann Bautista (alias Ka Helen), with Glendhyl Malabanan, Ronces Paraguso, also ranking leader Domingo “Ka Tino” Ritas, Joelito “Ka Jebar/Ka Tangkad” Tanilon, Bener “Ka Bata” Rimbuwan, and Awing “Ka Gitna” Lumpat who were arrested on October 4, 2019, at San Jose National Highway.

On November 5 of the same year, rebel leader Alimar Libuna Toting, alias “Ka Allan”, surrendered with seven others in Barangay Pulot Center, Sofronio Española. This was followed on September 3, 2020, by the death of five ranking leaders of the rebel group during a military raid of their known location in Barangay Mainit, Brooke’s Point, by the Force Reconnaissance Group (FRG) of the Philippine Marines.

On December 10, 2021, rebel fighter Remil Padilla Rodriguez, alias “Azumi”, was killed in a clash with troops from Philippine Marines in Barangay Tinitian in Roxas town. From this point forward, there has been a steady stream of members of the NPA’s Bienvenido Vallever Comand (BVC) and militia ng bayan supporters turning themselves in voluntarily.

Sonny Rogelio, also known as “Ka Miggy,” who is believed to be the highest-ranking leader of the rebel group operating in the province, has remained in hiding until this day.

Meanwhile, WESCOM Public Affairs Office chief Maj. Cherryl Tindog told Palawan News that aside from the gains in internal security, Carlos also discussed with Bacarro the current and emerging security situation in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Bacarro assured WESCOM of the AFP’s solid commitment and support to its joint operations in securing and protecting the Philippines’ territorial integrity and national interests in the WPS.

Carlos led his men and women in giving him honors upon his arrival and doing the traditional tree planting as part of WESCOM AFP’s commitment to environmental preservation.

Tindog said Bacarro was also the guest of honor at the ceremony in which WESCOM’s Strategy Map for its transformation journey for Base Camp 2023-2028 was unveiled.

She explained that this entails the institutionalized functions, resources, expectations, and messaging of the Command, all of which are in alignment with the CSAFP Scorecard in the direction of becoming world-class and a source of national pride.

Bacarro also had a Talk to Men to boost their morale and expressed words of inspiration and motivation, following his mantra of “doing common things uncommonly well.”

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has been with Palawan News since January 2019. She is its managing editor, overseeing and coordinating day-to-day editorial activities. Her writing interests are politics and governance, health, defense, investigative journalism, civic journalism, and the environment.