Northern Luzon, Western Mindanao have new commanders

David Yu Santos

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New appointees are from PMA classes '79, '80

LUZON. Lt Gen Anthony Alcantara is named as the new commander of the Northern Luzon Command (NolCom). File photo by Leona Calderon

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced on Friday, January 20, the appointment of new commanders to head two of the military’s major commands.

Lt Gen Anthony J Alcantara, currently the AFP’s Deputy Chief of Staff, has been named new commanding general of the Tarlac-based Northern Luzon Command (NolCom). He replaces Maj Gen Ricardo C Banayat, who took over as the command’s officer-in-charge in mid-December, after its previous chief, Lt Gen Jessie Dellosa, was chosen by Malacañang as AFP chief of staff.

Maj Gen Noel Coballes, on the other hand, will assume as commander of the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) on Saturday, January 21. WesMinCom chief Lt Gen Raymundo Ferrer will retire from the military on January 23.

MINDANAO. Maj Gen Noel Coballes is named as the new commander of the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom). (Photo courtesy of Philippine Information Agency)

Alcantara and Coballes are graduates of the Philippine Militar Academy 1979 and 1980, respectively.

Prior to his new assignment, Alcantara was commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division in Cotabato City and eventually became the AFP’s Deputy Chief. During his stint as division commander, Alcantra was credited for maintaining order in Central Mindanao in the aftermath of the 2009 Ampatuan massacre, particularly the controversial order of Malacañang to implement martial law and state of emergency in the region.

He was a contender both for the AFP chief of staff position, which went to his PMA classmate Dellosa, and for Army chief, a post that eventually went to Lt Gen Emmanuel Bautista.

Coballes is currently the commander of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division based in Pagadian City. Known to have spent most of his career in the Army’s elite unit, the First Scout Ranger Regiment, Coballes is Mindanao veteran, having led operations against lawless and rebels groups in the region.

Formerly known as the Southern Command (SouthCom), the WestMinCom used to be the biggest of the military’s 5 unified commands. The Southcom Chief was considered a coveted post in the AFP since most of the officers who held this assignment eventually were named as AFP Chief. Southcom was disintegrated into the Western and Eastern Commands in 2006.

The AFP upholds its professionalism which has brought us into a more effective and competent military organization. We are likewise confident that Lt Gen Alcantara and Maj Gen Coballes are more than able to take charge of their new tasks and responsibilities as they embark on a more sensitive position in the organization,” Dellosa said in a statement. –

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