Major General Bartolome “Bob” Bacarro, a recipient of the prestigious Medal of Valor, will be the next commander of the Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), replacing the controversial Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana confirmed to Rappler that President Rodrigo Duterte signed the appointment order of Bacarro and seven other senior military officers on Monday, June 28.
Parlade, who has been criticized for red-tagging personalities and progressive leaders, will reach his mandatory retirement age of 56 on July 26. It is unclear if he would remain as a spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
Bacarro will assume the command as soon as possible, according to the defense chief.
Another officer got a key command post: Major General Romeo Brawner Jr, who will assume command of the Army’s 4th infantry division on Monday, July 5. He replaces Major General Andres Centino, now Army chief.
The military also named its first female surgeon general, Colonel Fatima Claire Navarro. Brigadier General Ariel Felicidario, incumbent chief of the AFP Peace and Development Office, was also designated commander of the AFP Education Training, and Doctrine Command – replacing Major General Edgard Arevalo, who is set to retire on July 18. Arevalo also served as military spokesman, and his replacement has yet to be named.
Valor in Isabela
Bacarro received the Medal of Valor in 1991 for his victory in an encounter with communist rebels in Isabela. The coveted Medal of Valor is the military’s highest award given to a soldier who has performed a heroic act.
Bacarro’s sterling military career was also once mired in controversy. Following the death of Cadet 4th Class Darwin Dormitorio due to alleged hazing inside the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), then-Commandant of Cadets Bacarro resigned due to “command responsibility.”
Bacarro belongs to the ruling PMA Maringal Class of 1988.
The three highest officers of AFP services are Bacarro’s “mistahs.” These are Army chief Major General Andres Centino, Air Force chief Lieutenant General Allen Paredes, and Navy flag officer-in-command Rear Admiral Adeluis Bordado.
In his farewell press conference on Friday, July 16, Arevalo thanked the reporters who cover the defense beat. “I wish to thank you all for the time I’ve spent with you in our quest to bring the news to the people as the AFP Spokesperson spanning 8 AFP chiefs-of-staff. It was a fruitful experience with you in a journey of a thousand miles. Thank you for your professionalism. I will miss your queries. But not the friendship. Because it shall remain,” Arevalo said. – Rappler.com