Parlade retires from military service; Bacarro assumes post as new SOLCOM chief

Robie de Guzman   •   July 26, 2021   •   276

MANILA, Philippines — Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) commander Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr. has formally retired from the military service, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Monday.

A joint change of command and retirement ceremony, presided by AFP chief of staff General Cirilito Sobejana, was held on Sunday, July 25, at the SOLCOM Headquarters in Camp Nakar, Quezon Province.

In a statement, Sobejana cited Parlade’s contributions, including his campaign to eradicate the operations of communist terrorist groups in Southern Luzon.

“Southern Luzon Command, under Lt.Gen. Parlade, certainly ensured that the people of Southern Tagalog and Bicol Region are free from the influence of the enemies of the state, who continuously resort to violence, intimidation, and deception in pursuing their crooked interests and vile goals,” Sobejana said.

“As Commander of SOLCOM, Lt.Gen. Parlade pursued the effective and timely implementation of Campaign Plans that aim to finally neutralize or destroy the remaining communist terrorist groups (CTGs) operating in Southern Luzon,” he added.

“Working hand-in-hand with the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, SOLCOM was able to address insurgency in the region through combat operations and by addressing the root causes of insurgency.”

The AFP also said that Parlade led the Command in implementing stakeholder engagements and community support programs to identify and address issues that the CTGs exploit for their propaganda.

He also led SOLCOM in the activation of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response Task Groups, in close coordination with Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils, which enabled the Command to promptly respond to any eventualities, especially during the recent eruptions of Taal volcano.

“Indeed, SOLCOM, under the leadership of Lt.Gen. Parlade, is always ready to safeguard the people of Southern Luzon from whatever danger or unwanted circumstances that threaten the security environment in the area of operations,” Sobejana said.

Parlade is a member of the Philippine Military Academy “Hinirang” Class of 1987.

The AFP said Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry Division commander Major General Bartolome Vicente Bacarro will replace Parlade as the new SOLCOM chief.

Bacarro is a member of the PMA “Maringal” Class of 1988.

He previously served as the Commandant of the PMA Cadet Corps and as Internal Auditor of the AFP, Chief of Staff of 4th Infantry Division, Commander of 502nd Infantry Brigade, and also the Head of the AFP-ELCAC.

He is also a graduate of the US Army Command & General Staff Course in Kansas, USA.

Bacarro was awarded the Medal of Valor “for acts of conspicuous courage, gallantry, and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty” during an encounter with New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Isabela in 1991.

“Major General Bacarro’s bravery and gallantry are beyond reproach. He is a leader who never leaves his men behind in the direst of situations,” Sobejana said.

“I expect that he will usher in more accomplishments and milestones not only for this command but also for the whole of Southern Luzon,” he added.

AFP, PNP: No terror threat in PH despite Japan warning

Robie de Guzman   •   September 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Police and military authorities on Tuesday said they have not monitored any possible terrorist threat in the country despite the warning reportedly issued by the Japanese government.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Police General Guillermo Eleazar said they have not received any report of possible terror attacks but assured that they continue to be on alert  regarding this matter.

They are also working closely with their foreign counterparts on information sharing against terrorism.

“Noon pa man ay patuloy ang aming intelligence monitoring especially after the 9/11 attack in the US and the Marawi City incident. Nananatiling maigting ang ating pakikipag-ugnayan sa ibat ibang bansa laban sa terorismo through information sharing and strategic partnership in dealing with terror groups” Eleazar said.

“Kasama dito ang pagpapalakas ng ugnayan ng inyong kapulisan sa ibat ibang komunidad at stake holders upang matiyak na hindi tayo malulusutan sa ano mang plano ng mga teroristang grupo sa ano mang lugar sa ating bansa,” he added.

Foreign media reports stated that the Foreign Ministry of Japan has issued a warning for its citizens regarding a possible terror attack in six Southeast Asian nations, including the Philippines.

The Japanese ministry advised its citizens to avoid religious facilities and crowded areas in the said countries.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), for its part, said the country’s threat level remains at “moderate” based on its last review.

The military assured it is constantly validating reports relating to national security matters.

“As of now, we have not received any report. We constantly validate all reports on security matters and it is a continuous process,” AFP spokesperson Col. Ramon Zagala said in a statement.

Aside from the Philippines, the warning issued by the Japanese government also covers Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, and Malaysia.

Black hawk chopper crash in Tarlac caused by thunderstorm, pilot’s vertigo – AFP

Robie de Guzman   •   September 2, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The fatal crash of the S-70i Black Hawk helicopter during a night flight training in Tarlac in June was caused by a confluence of events, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Thursday.

Citing the result of the investigation conducted by the Philippine Air Force Accident Investigation Board, the AFP said the helicopter entered a thurderstorm that may have caused the possible disorientation of the pilot.

“Investigators found out that the chopper inadvertently entered a thunderstorm and was compounded by spatial disorientation or vertigo by the pilot, as the cause of the accident,” the military said.

The chopper crash, which occurred on June 24, killed six people, namely:

  • Lieutenant Colonel Rexzon Pasco (instructor pilot)
  • Major Eraño Belen (student pilot)
  • Major Jayrold Constantino (student pilot)
  • Master Sergeant Ronnie Reducto (instructor scanner)
  • Sergeant Leonardo Tandingan (student scanner)
  • Sergeant Maricar Laygo (student scanner)

The AFP said the results of the investigation will help the military avoid similar incidents in the future by implementing additional safety protocols and instituting training interventions for personnel.

“The goal of the investigation, based on international practice on handling crashed aircraft, was to determine the cause of the accident rather than apportion blame,” it added.

AFP says materials, human, environmental factors caused Sulu C-130 crash

Robie de Guzman   •   September 2, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Several factors have caused a C-130 plane of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to crash in Patikul, Sulu, the military said Thursday.

Citing the investigation results, AFP Spokesperson Colonel Ramon Zagala said the crash could be attributed to a confluence of material, human, and environmental conditions.

“It was most probably due to actual or perceived material factors, and induced human factors which were aggravated by local and environment conditions,” Zagala said in a statement.

“The aircraft component, the environmental condition and aircrew response led to unrecoverable stall in a critical phase of the aircraft operation,” he added.

The result of the investigation into the crash was first mentioned by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana during a congressional hearing on Wednesday.

“It was actually a confluence of many events… One, for the C-130, its defective instruments or systems. Plus, of course, the reaction of the pilot was not also appropriate for the emergency, so nag-crash,” Lorenzana sad.

The military C-130 aircraft crashed in Patikul, Sulu on July 4. It was carrying 96 passengers when the incident occurred.

The crash took the lives of 53 individuals, including 50 soldiers and three civilians on the ground, and injured 46 servicemen and four civilians.

It was described as one of the worst tragedies in the Philippine military history.

The ill-fated C-130 plane, with tail number 5215, was not brand new when it was delivered to the Philippines early this year but it had been “in very good condition,” according to the AFP.

It arrived in the country on January 29 and was one of the two C-130H aircrafts granted by the United States government to the Philippines. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

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