Thursday, April 15, 2010

Marines to Render Hero’s Welcome to Personnel Killed in Latest Basilan Encounter

By: Lieutenant Colonel Edgard A Arevalo PN(M)
Director, Naval Public Affairs Office

15 April 2010

One of the Marines killed in action during the encounter with the ASG in Basilan was set to become a priest before finding himself in the rugged terrains of Ternate as a trainee of the Philippine Marines. Corporal Jerome Verzola, a 30-year old Bicolano from Sorsogon dreamt of joining the Philippine Military Academy but was discouraged by his parents. Instead he entered a seminary in Baguio City before finally earning a bachelor’s degree in Criminology in 2000. In 2002, Cpl Verzola became a member of the Marine Battalion Landing Team 7.

A champion racer during his civilian days and a computer buff, the late Cpl Verzola was known to his peers as a jolly person. According to 2Lt Beryl Charity Bacolcol, Acting Commanding Officer of the 73rd Armor Company based in Isabela City, Verzola was a very professional soldier who saw to the welfare of his juniors. “He was called ‘bunso’ by his peers in the Brigade because of his looks but when the second batch of female marines (9 in all) arrived in the Brigade this month, the ‘bunso’ suddenly became a ‘kuya’ to the new Marine recruits,” 2Lt Bacolcol recounts.

Cpl Verzola, together with Private First Class Francis Vibal and Private First Class Anastacio Giron were given a heroes welcome this afternoon, 15 April 2010 at the Marine Headquarters in Taguig City. Maj Gen Juancho a Sabban, Commandant, Philippine Marine Corps led officers and enlisted personnel in paying their last respects to their late comrades. The three were awarded the Posthumous Wounded Medal.

Pfc Giron, 27 from Antique and Pfc Vibal, 31 from Camarines Sur are both members of MBLT1. Giron who joined the Marines in 2006 is a champion marathoner. Pfc Vibal who has been with the Marines since 2005 is no stranger to the call of duty being married to a policewoman. Both men are described by their commander as loyal and have a high respect for authority.

The three were killed in action when they clashed with members of ASG in Isabela City last Tuesday. The three were part of the security forces dispatched after a bomb planted by the ASG exploded.

Security forces in Basilan have beefed up their operations to prevent a repeat of the incident. The Navy has also deployed its patrol gunboats to conduct maritime barrier patrol and interdiction operation to frustrate reinforcement or escape of the perpetrators.

“The death of these three gallant Marines may be costly a price to pay for the call of duty. But they know and willingly risked their lives but were killed in the process. In the end, they secured the Basilenos and thwart what could be the Abu Sayyaf Group’s grand plan to raid Isabela City and cause massive death and destruction.”

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Navy Spearheads Maritime Senior Leaders Seminar in Manila

Director, Naval Public Affairs Office

Thursday, 08 April 2010

The Philippine Navy spearheads the two-day Maritime Senior Leaders Seminar (SLS), 07-08 April 2010 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Manila. The forum gathers senior Navy leaders from Southeast Asian countries, the US, and Philippines for information fusion in varied and complex security issues such as terrorism, smuggling, transnational crimes, and maritime situational awareness.

With this year’s theme “Strengthening Inter-operability in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR) through CARAT,” the two-day forum provides a venue among the attendees to collectively discuss, assess, and generate the ways ahead on the perceived issues or problems that may affect operations planning and course of action development in the conduct of HADR through CARAT. The Cooperation Afloat Readiness Training (CARAT) is a military exercise conducted every year between the Philippine and US Navies. The Philippines, along with other ASEAN navies, participate every year in the Southeast Asia Cooperation Training (SEACAT) Exercise. Both involve a series of activities and drills aimed at employing skills and tactics in combating terrorism, transnational crimes, and maritime security threats.

Commo Jose Luis Alano, Commander, Naval Forces Northern Luzon and Commo Miguel Jose Rodriguez, Commander, Fleet-Marine Ready Force shared their experiences in conducting HADR during the Typhoons “Ondoy” and “Pepeng”. Commo Alano discussed disaster response and humanitarian assistance in the rural setting highlighting his Command’s efforts in the areas of Ilocos Norte and Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Cagayan, and Zambales. Commo Rodriguez meanwhile talked on how Fleet-Marine disaster response teams in the Manila-Cavite area undertook search, rescue, and humanitarian operations in the affected areas of Manila and Rizal Province.

The Maritime SLS is an annual convention of ASEAN Flag Officers participating in CARAT/SEACAT bilateral exercises and serves as a venue for the planning and rationalization of CARAT/SEACAT, and has been co-hosted by the Singaporean Navy since 1995. The Philippine Navy is co-hosting the event with the US Navy this year.

The convention this year will focus on strengthening the navies’ capability to interoperate and jointly conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations during catastrophes. The participants will collectively take a hard look on the lessons learned during the onslaught of disasters and seek closer collaboration for a timely joint humanitarian action.

Maritime Security Forum in La Union

Director, Naval Public Affairs Office

Wednesday, 07 April 2010

Director Hernie Mendoza II, Chairman of Bio Fuels/Bio Power Committee addresses participants during the Maritime Security Forum Northern Luzon at Poro Pt, La Union on 05 April 2010. The one-day symposium attended by the Navy’s top Fleet commanders, heads and representatives from both the private and government sectors like the Philippine Coast Guard, The Philippine National Police, and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency among other government institutions from all over the country attended the forum. The meeting provided cooperation and awareness for maritime security to thwart the threats of piracy, smuggling, illegal trafficking, terrorism, and transnational crimes in the Northern Luzon maritime area. The attendees signed a manifesto affirming their commitment to protect the waters of Northern Luzon from lawless elements and economic saboteurs.

Members of the Naval Special Operations Group (NAVSOG) aboard a rigid hull inflatable boat engage a civilian vessel during a drill on board and search in a capability demonstration in Poro Pt, La Union, 05 April 2010. The drill tests the capability of the NAVSOG in intercepting lawless elements and employ appropriate measures in dealing with pirates during real-life situations. The capability demonstration was part of the Maritime Security Forum hosted by the Naval Forces Northern Luzon (NFNL) Command and gathered representatives from both the government and private sectors to address maritime security threats in the region. Vice Admiral Ferdinand S Golez, Flag Officer In Command, Philippine Navy and Commodore Jose Luis M Alano, Commander, NFNL spearheaded the activity.