Monday, January 3, 2011

Bemedalled officer named new Philippine Navy chief

By Dona Z Pazzibugan
Philippine Daily Inquirer, Monday, January 3, 2010

A veteran in the military campaigns against the Abu Sayyaf has been named the new flag officer in command of the Philippine Navy.

Rear Admiral Alexander Pama, currently the Navy vice commander, will assume the naval command on Tuesday in turnover ceremonies to be attended by President Aquino at the Navy headquarters in Manila.

He succeeds Rear Admiral Danilo Cortez who retires from service upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56 on Tuesday.

Military spokesperson Brigadier General Jose Mabanta Jr. confirmed Pama’s appointment on Sunday. He said President Aquino will attend the turnover ceremonies and preside over his first military command conference for the year 2011.

Pama belongs to the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1979 whose members now occupy top positions in the military. Among them are Army commanding general Lieutenant General Arturo Ortiz, Northern Luzon Command chief Lieutenant General Gaudencio Pangilinan and Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (Isafp) chief, Brigadier General Romulo Bambao.

Pama has received numerous military medals and civilian awards in the course of his naval career since graduating from the PMA.

On December 21, Pama was given the Distinguished Service Star award during the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ 75th anniversary rites for gains made against the Abu Sayyaf while heading the Naval Forces Western Mindanao based in Zamboanga City for two years.

Oplan ‘Bayanihan’

Pama takes over the Navy command at a time the AFP is implementing “Bayanihan,” a new counterinsurgency plan that veers from combat operations-centered strategy and stresses “winning the peace rather than defeating the enemy.”

Pama was appointed Navy vice commander last December after having served as the Naval Inspector General for three months.

Before his appointment as the Naval Inspector General last September, he was commander of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao which engaged in battles with bandits, Islamic extremists and secessionist rebels in southern Mindanao. He held this post since October 2008.

Pama was also concurrent commander of the Joint Task Force Trillium which mounted offensives against the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan and Zamboanga.

‘Stingray’ commander

Pama also served as commander of the Navy’s antiterrorism group, the Naval Task Group “Stingray” and commanded other naval task groups that operated in the provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

Pama also successfully completed shipboard and shore assignments and has served as commanding officer of six Navy vessels including the presidential yacht, BRP Ang Pangulo.

Among the numerous staff positions in the Navy headquarters and AFP general headquarters he held were: division chief of the operations control division of the AFP Office of Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence (J-2); assistant chief of naval staff for intelligence (N2); commander of the Naval Intelligence Security Force; superintendent of the Naval School Center; AFP assistant deputy chief of staff for plans (J5); and senior military assistant and chief of staff to then defense secretary Gilbert Teodoro.

Pama was awarded the Philippine Legion of Honor (Degree of Officer) and conferred the Distinguished Service Star by the military five times.

Adopted son

Pama received his latest service star during the AFP 75th anniversary rites on December 2 “for eminently meritorious and valuable service” as commander of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao from October 3, 2008 to September 2, 2010 and as head of the Joint Task Force Trillium from January 30 to September 2, 2010.

“Rear Admiral Pama effectively managed and supervised the conduct of the Navy’s Fleet-Marines operations in Western Mindanao,” the citation said.

Other awards Pama received include two Distinguished Navy Crosses, an Outstanding Achievement Medal, the Silver Wing Medal and numerous medals for merit, commendation and campaign such as the Senior Command-at-Sea Badge and the Marine Command Badge.

The Zamboanga City government has acknowledged Pama’s accomplishments by conferring him the honor of being called its “Adopted Son (Hijo Adoptivo).”

Pama was born on December 21, 1956 in Passi, Iloilo, the second of six children of Artemio Pama and Alice PatiƱo.

He is married to Carmela Aquino from La Paz, Iloilo. They have two sons, Gorby and Archie.

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